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Previewing the Owls with FAU's Jared Smith

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Gainesville Regional Bracket

In order to get to know Florida Atlantic better before tomorrow's game, I had a quick chat with FAU Baseball SID and broadcaster Jared Smith. Here's what he had to say:

On Mike Gipson, the starter for tomorrow's game... 

He is a very experienced pitcher, and I say that for two reasons. One, he's the most experienced starter we have on the staff, and two, he pitched in the Cape Cod League last summer. He's probably the best prospect that we've got right now. He's probably going in the 8-15th round range in the draft. Pitching in the Cape Cod League over the summer really matured him. He came back a new pitcher. He used to get really flustered last year as a sophomore by someone missing a double play or making errors, for example. This year he's really matured, and he almost relishes those adversity situations now instead of getting upset and flustered. And he has a good breaking ball. 

On Andy Mee as a pitcher.. 

I wouldn't call him a finesse pitcher, but he hits his spots very well with his breaking pitch. As a closer, if you can come and command your breaking ball, it always helps. Sometimes closers have a hard time getting the feel of the game because they only pitch one inning. With him playing eight innings in right field and coming in to pitch the ninth, he's in the game the whole time. We've actually had problems with him not necessarily getting enough warm-up tosses in. He's been playing right field, he has to hit, so that's the biggest concern with getting him into the game on the mound. We've had problems when he's been at the plate in the eighth inning and he has to go pitch the ninth-- we can't really send him down to the bullpen because if he exits the game we can't get him back in. 

On the newcomers this year... 

McCormack has been at FAU for twenty years now. He's in his second year as head coach now, and he became the recruiting coordinator somewhere in the mid 90's. He's been recruiting Florida baseball players for 20 years. He has a master plan, and when he turned over the recruiting duties last year to our pitching coach Jason Jackson. All the Juco guys that we brought in-- baseball is different because the Juco rules are different and those kids have so much more of an impact than they do in baseball or basketball. The kids we brought in--- Andy Mee, Dan Scheffler, Raymond Church, Ryan Bernal-- have made an impact as juniors at the D1 level. They've overachieved and had great seasons for us. 

On the offensive identity of FAU... 

We don't run a lot. We pick our spots when we run. We're not a team that's going to maul you over the head with home runs-- we're kind of right in the middle. We have a decent situational hitting team, and we're a team that requires timely hits to score runs. We're not going to rely on the 3-run home run. We don't have al ot of guys who can power the ball out of the ballpark. But we have a lot of gap hitters, and a lot of disciplined hitters, and guys who relish the big hit. We piece our innings together one by one. We don't put up six or seven runs per inning a lot. Our money is made on the mound and in the field. We're a very good defensive team and our pitching staff and bullpen are both good. It's funny because we kind of relate to Oreogn State in terms of how we play on the field, although we are a much different team offensively. We win games with defensive and pitching. We win games 5-4, not 16-14. 

On the weather...

It's so hot. We were just on the field about two hours ago for practice and it was boiling. It's going to be hot and humid tomorrow, and the loser has to play again at 1:00 on Saturday. So the winner gets to get out of the heat game. 

On the series....

It's going to be a good series. Obviously Bethune is the four seed, so people are kind of sleeping on them. But I think FAU, OSU, and UF all have a pretty good shot to win two games in a row. I wouldn't be surprised to see OSU or FAU win two in a row-- they're just that type of a team. 

Thanks, Jared!

--Jake | (jake.buildingthedam@gmail.com)