Ole Miss Rebels vs. Florida International Golden Panthers Baseball Preview

Joe Robbins

The Rebs are in Miami to face the Golden Panthers this weekend.b

[Yes, this is late, and it's all my fault. Please forgive me. Thanks.]

[Oh, and another thing, give your thanks, beers, adulation, and so forth to BeardedGinger this weekend, who helped with this preview. He'll be helping out for this season because he's a good Rebel and member of the Cup community.]

The #8 Ole Miss Rebels (8-1) will travel to south Florida this weekend to face the Golden Panthers of Florida International University (7-2) this weekend. It will be the first road test for this team which has been impressive thus far at home, a 4-3 loss to the University of Memphis this week notwithstanding. Here's what to look out for:

FIU Pitching

Friday - Michael Ellis (Junior) - Right hander. Only returning starting pitcher from last year. Last year he was the Saturday/Sunday starter and went 3-2 in 15 appearances (14 starts). Struck out 88 and walked 45 in 83.1 innings. He finished the season with a 3.13 ERA. This season he is 1-0 in 2 starts with a 7.45 ERA. He has 9 strikeouts in 9.2 innings. He has also allowed 5 walks and 10 hits. Opponents are hitting .263 against him so far this season.

Vs. Stony Brook he pitched 4 innings with 7 strikeouts, 2 walks, 4 hits, and 4 runs. No Decision.
Vs. Manhattan he pitched 5.2 innings with 2 strikeouts, 3 walks, 6 hits, and 4 runs. Winning pitcher.

Saturday - Tyler Alexander (Junior) - Left hander. JUCO transfer from Hillsborough Community College (ranked the #2 overall JUCO prospect last year). Couldn't find any of his stats from his JUCO years. This year he is 1-0 in 2 starts. He has struck out 13 and walked 5 in 12 innings. He currently has a 0.00 ERA. Opponents are only hitting .146 against him this season. He hasn't allowed an extra base hit so far this season in 41 batters faced.

Vs. Stony Brook he pitched 6 innings with 7 strikeouts, 3 walks, 4 hits, and no runs. No Decision.
Vs. Manhattan he pitched 6 innings with 6 strikeouts, 2 walks, 2 hits, and 1 unearned run. Winning pitcher.

Sunday - Mike Franco (Junior) - Right hander. JUCO transfer from Howard College. He was named Most Valuable pitcher for NJCAA region 5. He posted a 10-2 record with a 2.84 ERA. This season he is currently 1-0 in 2 starts. However, he has only pitched a combined 4.2 innings over those 2 starts. He has struck out 6 and walked 4 while allowing 3 hits in those 4.2 innings. He has given up 4 runs and currently posts a 7.71 ERA.

Vs. Stony Brook he pitched 2.2 innings with 4 strikeouts, 1 walk, 1 hit, and no runs. Winning pitcher.
Vs. Manhattan he pitched 2.0 innings with 2 strikeouts, 3 walks, 2 hits, and 4 runs. No Decision.

Closer - Michael Gomez (Senior)- Left handed pitcher. Last season he led the Sun Belt with 13 saves, which was 12th overall in the NCAA. He finished the season with a 1-4 record with a 3.76 ERA. This season he has 4 saves in 4 appearances. Through 4.2 innings pitched he has struck out 5, walked 1, 4 hits, and has allowed 4 runs. He currently has a 7.71 ERA.

Team wide pitching notes:

  • 8th in the Sun Belt in ERA (3.83)
  • 6th in the Sun Belt in Opposing batting average (.245)
  • 4th in batters struck out (78)
  • 8th in hits allowed (75)
  • 8th in runs allowed (37)
  • 8th in walks allowed (34)
So, yeah, they're not terrible, but they're not particularly great on the bump either.

FIU Bats

The guys to look out for are third baseman Edwin Rios, shortstop Julius Gaines, utility man Oscar Aguirre, and outfield Zach Sweety. Rios is batting .455 on the year, slugging .848, and getting on base at a .500 clip with one dinger and 11 runs batted in. Gaines is right behind Rios in offensive production with a .414 average, .448 slugging percentage, and a .514 on base percentage. He leads the team in stolen bases with three.

Oscar Aguire is batting .346 with a .500 slugging percentage and a .370 on base percentage. Zach Sweety is batting .323 while slugging .613 and getting on base at a .400 rate. Thus far on the season, those have been the guys Florida International has leaned on to get the offensive production needed to win.

As a team, the Golden Panthers are second in the Sun Belt in batting average (.329), first in doubles (28), first in home runs (10). Fun fact, no FIU Panther has yet grounded into a double play on the season. An odd stat, sure, but it's interesting, dammit.

Here's your open thread. Have fun, y'all.
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