Rice Invite: Florida Atlantic

Florida Atlantic comes into today's game with just one loss on the young season -- a walk-off defeat at the hands of Joe Savery and Rice. The FAU Owls are ranked No. 27, and though they were picked behind Troy, Louisiana-Lafayette and Southern Alabama in the pre-season poll, the Owls are the top-ranked team in the Sun Belt Conference. They've already posted a big win over Oklahoma State and nearly knocked off Rice.

After Nebraska's demoralizing disintegration against Rice, there's a good chance that the infamous "hangover effect" could be in play today. How well the Huskers bounce back against FAU will be telling. This is a team that has enough talent to win, but there's some questions about whether it can be pulled together.

Nebraska record: (4-2, 0-0 Big 12)
Florida Atlantic record: (10-1, 0-0 Sun Belt)
Game Time: 12 p.m. CST
TV/Radio: none
Webcasts: Huskers.com Live Stats

Probable Pitchers

Nebraska: Johnny Dorn, Jr., RHP (0-1, 1.80 ERA, 4 K, 5.0 IP)
Florida Atlantic: Brandon Cooney, Sr., RHP (2-0, 4.67 ERA, 20 K, 17.1 IP)

FAU Overview

While Florida Atlantic's strength is arguably their offense (12.1 runs/game), they're not a poor pitching team. The entire team is averaging over 11 strikeouts a game, while putting up an ERA of 4.65. Brandon Cooney fits right in with that trend, striking out 1 of every 4 batters he faces.

The main offensive weapons for the Owls are Daniel Bomback (.435/.542/.739, 4 HR) and William Block (.404/.500/.766, 4 HR), but the Owls have many good hitters. Seven of the nine starters are hitting at least .350 avg, .469 obp, and .600 slg.

Last Game

FAU scored eight runs in the last three innings to come back from a 12-5 deficit. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, the game was won on a dramatic walk-off... balk? That kind of thing doesn't happen that often.

Nebraska scored took a 5-0 lead after just two innings for the second time in as many days, but couldn't hold on against Rice as they had against TAMU-CC. Going into the bottom of the 4th inning, Charlie Shirek had a five-run cushion and had been pitching well. He gave up three straight hits to open the inning as Rice got on the board for the first time. Then, things really fell apart.

From the (horrible) play-by-play:

  • Savery advanced to third on a passed ball; Seastrunk scored
  • Luna walked
  • Buenger reached on a fielder's choice, RBI; Luna advanced to third on a throwing error by 1b; Savery scored, unearned
  • Gayhart struck out swinging
  • Lembeck reached on a fielder's choice; Buenger advanced to second
  • Lembeck advanced to second on a wild pitch; Buenger advanced to third; Luna scored, unearned
  • Lehmann lined out to 2b
  • Henley walked
  • Friday hit by pitch, RBI; Henley advanced to second; Lembeck advanced to third; Buenger scored, unearned
  • Jennings, D. to p for Shirek, C.
  • Friday advanced to second on a wild pitch; Henley advanced to third; Lembeck scored, unearned

That's five runs scored on wild pitches, botched fielders choice plays, errors, passed balls, a hit-by-pitch, and general chaos. Ugh.

Fun Fact

Tomorrow, Florida Atlantic takes on the St. Louis Cardinals. Yes, you read that right, the defending World Series champions. It's an college/pro exhibition game, which is something that can only happen in baseball. Interestingly enough, Sunday's starter for the Owls, Brandon Cooney, was drafted in the 20th round last summer by -- you guessed it -- the Cardinals.

Next Game

The Huskers will travel to Florida next weekend to participate in the Stetson Invite. They'll play Iowa, Notre Dame and Stetson. As usual, you can expect a preview from me around Wednesday or Thursday.

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