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Towson tops Florida Atlantic in NCAA Baseball Tournament opener

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Towson tops Florida Atlantic in NCAA Baseball Tournament opener

Posted on 31 May 2013 by WNST Staff

VOLPE, PARKER LEAD TIGERS PAST FLORIDA ATLANTIC IN NCAA’S

Third-Seeded Tigers Snap FAU’s 11-Game Winning Streak

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Senior righthander Mike Volpe earned his tenth victory of the season and senior catcher Andrew Parker blasted a monstrous three-run homer as Towson University (30-28) continued its magical post-season with a 7-2 victory over No. 23 Florida Atlantic (39-21) in the first round of the NCAA Regional Tournament at Boshamer Stadium on Friday afternoon.

Volpe, who pitched the Tigers into the NCAA Tournament last Saturday with a 5-2 win over William & Mary in the Colonial Athletic Association championship game, pitched seven very strong innings as the Tigers ended Florida Atlantic’s 11-game winning streak.

Volpe, who has a 3-0 record in the post-season, scattered four hits and allowed one unearned run with two walks and four strikeouts as he improved his record to 10-3 on the season. After issuing a leadoff walk to senior centerfielder Nathan Pittman in the eighth inning, he turned the game over to the bullpen. Junior righthander Nik Nowottnick finished the game with a flourish, striking out the side in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Parker, who went one-for-four in the game, helped the Tigers offensively and defensively. He highlighted the Tigers’ five-run sixth inning with a three-run homer to left. He also threw out a runner trying to steal and ended a Florida Atlantic rally by picking off Mark Nelson with the bases loaded in the eighth inning.

“It is so great to be back in this environment,” said Towson Coach Mike Gottlieb, who guided the Tigers to their first regional appearance since 1991. “It is quite rewarding and I am so thrilled that these guys have the opportunity to experience this.”

The win over Florida Atlantic marked the first time in three NCAA regional tournaments that the Tigers won their opening game. Towson will play their second NCAA regional contest on Saturday evening at 6:00 p.m. against the winner of the first round game between host North Carolina and fourth-seeded Canisius.

“When you can get a pitching performance like we received from Mike (Volpe), you have a great chance to win,” added Gottlieb. “Obviously, the sixth inning was the turning point in the game. Up until that point, we had been struggling with the bats. But, we turned it around in the sixth inning and gave ourselves a nice lead.”

The Tigers’ first NCAA regional game in 22 years started off as a pitcher’s duel between Volpe and righthander Jeremy Strawn. Strawn shut out the Tigers on two hits through the first three innings before the Owls threatened in the bottom of the third inning. With one out, Pittman drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch to start the rally. Junior leftfielderGeoff Jiminez reached base on an infield single to shortstop to give the Owls two runners on base with one out. After a prolonged at-bat, Nelson was retired on a fly ball to right as Pittman advanced to third base. With Jiminez on first base and Pittman on third, the Owls tried a trick play by having Jiminez break for second base. However, Volpe wasn’t fooled and allowed Jiminez to steal second base while Pittman remained on third. Then, Volpe won a six-pitch battle with junior designated hitter Tyler Rocklein by getting him to fly out to rightfield where junior Dominic Fratantuono made the catch.

In the top of the fourth inning, the Tigers scored the first run of the game, thanks to junior designated hitter Kurt Wertz. Wertz led off the inning with a single to centerfield on a 3-2 pitch. Wertz stole second base while Strawn was striking out sophomore leftfielder Peter Bowles. With a runner on second base and one out, Fratantuono reached base when he was hit by a pitch. Wertz advanced to third base when sophomore first baseman Brendan Butler flew out to centerfield. With Wertz on third and Fratantuono on first base, the Tigers tried a delayed double steal. Junior catcher Levi Meyer threw down to second base but sophomore shortstop Mitch Morales cut off the throw and was ready to throw the ball home. But, Wertz had already scored to give Towson a 1-0 lead. Strawn pitched out of the jam by striking out Parker.

Once the Tigers gave Volpe a lead, he got tougher. He retired the Owls in order in the fourth and fifth innings as the Tigers took their 1-0 lead into the top of the sixth inning.

Junior second baseman Pat Fitzgerald led off the sixth inning with a single to centerfield, extending his on-base streak to 28 games in a row. When Wertz lined a double to right centerfield, Fitzgerald reached third base to give the Tigers runners on second and third with no outs. Bowles followed with a single to right centerfield, Fitzgerald scored while Wertz held up at third base.

Fratantuono upped the Tigers’ lead to 3-0 when he doubled to left centerfield as Wertz scored his second run of the game. After the double by Fratantuono, Strawn was relieved by junior righthander Kevin Alexander.

Alexander got Butler to hit a weak ground ball to first base where Nelson threw home to retire Bowles, trying to score from third base.

On a 2-2 pitch, Parker launched a long home run well over the left field fence, his 11th homer of the season and the 23rd of his college career. His three-run homer broke the game open and gave Towson a 6-0 lead.

Staked to a 6-0 lead, Volpe retired the Owls in the sixth inning without incident. In the seventh inning, he allowed a one-out single to Meyer, Florida Atlantic’s first hit since the third inning. But Volpe retired the next two hitters to preserve the shutout.

With one out in the eighth inning, Butler gave the Tigers a 7-0 advantage with a solo home run to left centerfield. It was his fifth homer of the season,

In the bottom of the eighth, the Owls came to life. After Volpe walked Pittman to lead off the inning, he was relieved by junior lefthander Kyle Paul. Paul got Jiminez to hit a ground ball to shortstop. In his haste to turn a double play, junior shortstop Hunter Bennett committed a rare error as Florida Atlantic had two runners on base with no outs. When Nelson was hit by a pitch, Florida Atlantic had the bases loaded with no outs.

While Paul was pitching to Rocklein, Parker made one of the biggest plays of the game. With Butler playing behind Nelson, the runner at first base, Parker threw down to first base when Butler snuck in behind the runner and he picked him off for the first out of the inning.

The pickoff play proved to be even more important when Rocklein singled to left field, scoring Pittman with the Owls’ first run of the game. Freshman second baseman Brendon Sanger followed by hitting a ground ball between first and second base. Fitzgerald ranged to his right and threw to Bennett at second base for the force play while Jiminez scored an unearned run. Senior rightfielder Corey Keller came through with a double down the left field line as Sanger reached third base.

After the double by Keller, Nowottnick came out of the bullpen to relieve Paul. He pitched out of the jam by getting Meyer to ground out to shortstop.

In the bottom of the ninth, Nowottnick nailed down the 7-2 win by striking out the side.

“Getting the big lead in the sixth inning helped me a lot,” said Volpe. “I concentrated on keeping the ball down and I was able to throw my curve ball for strikes. I knew it was a big game but I just tried to treat it like any other game and not get too excited. When we got the lead, I just tried to pitch to contact and get through the innings.”

Volpe, who became only the third pitcher in Towson baseball history, to win at least 10 games in a season, pitched seven innings and allowed one unearned run on four hits. He walked two batters and had four strikeouts. Volpe allowed only one hit after the third inning and retired 14 of the last 17 batters he faced.

The CAA champion Tigers outhit the Sun Belt Conference champion Owls by an 11-6 margin as all nine Tigers in the starting lineup had at least one base hit. Sophomore centerfielder Richie Blosser and Wertz each had two hits. Wertz was two-for-five with two runs scored while Parker had three RBI’s.

With the win, the Tigers reached the 30-win level for the seventh time in school history. The Tigers have now won five games in a row and seven of their last eight games.

TIGER TALES:  The Tigers faced Florida Atlantic with regular centerfielder Brandon Gonnella … Gonnella was sidelined with an injury but Coach Gottlieb hopes he will be available for the Tigers’ game against either North Carolina or Canisius … When Volpe was charged with an unearned run in the eighth inning against Florida Atlantic, it was the first run he allowed in 11 innings … While improving his record to 10-3, Volpe became the first Tiger pitcher to throw more than 100 innings in a season … He has started a school record 16 games and has thrown a school record 102.2 innings this season.

With the victory, the Tigers improved to 3-4 all-time in NCAA Tournament games … By beating 23rd-ranked Owls, Towson is now 3-5 against nationally-ranked teams this season … Towson went 0-3 against No. 30 Pittsburgh before dropping a 7-1 decision to No. 5 Virginia … The Tigers won two of three games against No. 21 North Carolina Wilmington before beating the No. 23 Owls.

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Towson to open NCAA Baseball Tournament against FAU Friday

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Towson to open NCAA Baseball Tournament against FAU Friday

Posted on 27 May 2013 by WNST Staff

TOWSON, Md. – The 2013 Colonial Athletic Association champion Towson University baseball team, which swept through the CAA Tournament in four straight games, will open play in the NCAA Tournament at the Chapel Hill Regional this weekend.

Now 29-28 on the season, the Tigers are seeded third in the regional that will be hosted by North Carolina, the number one-ranked team in the nation. The Tar Heels, who won the Atlantic Coast Conference championship, have a 52-8 record and are the top seed. Joining Towson and UNC in the tournament field are Florida Atlantic (39-20) and Canisius (42-15).

Towson and Florida Atlantic will open regional play with a game on Friday at 12 noon at Boshamer Stadium. At 6:00 p.m.,

North Carolina faces Canisius.

Florida Atlantic earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament by winning its first Sun Belt Conference championship.

Towson and Florida Atlantic have never played a college baseball game. The Tigers have played Canisius twice and both games. In 2004, Towson swept a doubleheader from Canisius at Schuerholz Park by scores of 11-5 and 7-0. The Tigers have played 27 games against North Carolina through the years. The Tar Heels have a 25-2 all-time record against Towson. The teams last played in 2007. On March 21, 2000, the Tigers edged the Tar Heels, 9-8. One year to the day, on March 21, 2001, Towson beat North Carolina, 4-0.

Towson was one of three CAA teams to earn bids to the NCAA Tournament. William & Mary (37-22), the CAA runner-up, is the number three seed at the Raleigh regional while North Carolina Wilmington (37-21), the 2012 CAA champion and the top seed for the CAA Tournament, is the number two seed at the Charlottesville regional.

During the 2013, the Tigers had a combined record of 7-2 against William & Mary and UNCW. The Tigers beat the Tribe two out of three times in the regular season and handed William & Mary two losses in the CAA Tournament. Towson won two of three regular season games against UNCW and then beat the Seahawks, 13-11, in the CAA Tournament.

This is the third NCAA Tournament appearance for Coach Mike Gottlieb and the Tigers. In 1988 and 1991, Towson went to the NCAA regional tournaments. In 1988, Towson lost to Miami of Fla. and South Carolina with a win over Virginia Commonwealth. In 1991, the Tigers played in a regional at Maine and lost to Mississippi State and Maine while beating Princeton.

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Navy aims to extend win streak Saturday against FAU

Posted on 02 November 2012 by WNST Staff

Game 9 Navy (5-3) vs. Florida Atlantic (2-6)
Date and Kickoff Nov. 3, 2012 at 3:30 pm ET
Location Annapolis, Md. | Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (34,000)
Television CBS Sports Network
TV Talent Grant Boone (play-by-play), Todd Christensen (analyst), Sheehan Stanwick Burch (sideline)

Setting the Stage
• Navy and Florida Atlantic will meet on the gridiron for the first time when they square off Saturday afternoon at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.  Kickoff is set for 3:34 pm and the presenting sponsor for Saturday’s game is Navy Mutual.
• Navy enters the weekend having won four consecutive games.  The last time Navy won five in a row came in 2009 when the Mids defeated Western Kentucky, Air Force (OT), Rice, SMU (OT) and  Wake Forest.  That Navy team went on to post a 10-4 record and defeat Missouri in the Texas Bowl, 35-13.
• A win on Saturday would send Navy to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco on Dec. 29 against an opponent from the Pac-12. It would be Navy’s ninth bowl game in the last 10 seasons.
• In honor of Veterans Day on Nov. 11 (Navy is on the road next weekend), the Naval Academy and Naval Academy Athletic Association will recognize all veterans in attendance during a first quarter timeout by asking them to stand and rise to be thanked for their service.
• Saturday’s game will be televised nationally by CBS Sports Network with Grant Boone, former Oakland Raider Pro Bowl tight end Todd Christensen and Sheehan Stanwick-Burch calling the action.

Game Day Festivities
• Pregame festivities will get underway at approximately 1:00 pm with the Navy Football Team Walk.  Originating at the Blue Angel in the southwest corner of the stadium, the team will make its way down the sidewalk and through NavyFest before walking up the drive to the stadium.  Fans are encouraged to line up on both sides of the sidewalk to cheer for the team.
• The March-On of the Brigade of Midshipmen will take place at 3:09 pm.  The march-on will be broadcast live for Navy All-Access subscribers.
• Saturday’s fly-over (3:31 pm) will be two F-18′s piloted by Lt. John Pegues (`03) and Lt. Diana Beauford (`05) out of Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
• Navy women’s lacrosse coach Cindy Timchal will be recognized in the second quarter for her induction into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame.  Timchal recently completed her 30th season as a Division I head coach and owns a career record of 412-108 (.792). She became the first college lacrosse coach to win 400 games this past season and she is the sport’s all-time leader in wins.  In five seasons at Navy, Timchal is 76-22 (.776) and has led the Midshipmen to three straight Patriot League titles. She is Navy’s only coach in its five-year history and the program has competed in the NCAA Tournament in each of the past three years.  Timchal won eight national championships while coaching at Maryland (1991-2006), including seven in a row, and she also had a nine-year stint at Northwestern (1982-90). Timchal is the only women’s lacrosse coach to take three different programs to the NCAA Division I Tournament.
• Other recognitions taking place on Saturday include the first Naval Academy Rugby Hall of Fame class and the 2012 Patriot League Champion men’s golf team.

Scouting Florida Atlantic
• The Owls are 2-6 on the year, but are coming off a 34-27 upset win over Troy last Saturday.
• FAU also defeated Wagner, 7-3, in the opener and has lost to Middle Tennessee State (31-17), Georgia (56-20), Alabama (40-7), North Texas (20-14), Louisiana-Monroe (35-14) and South Alabama (37-34, OT).
• Florida Atlantic is ranked 96th in the country in rushing offense (124.3), 92nd in passing offense (200.9), 103rd in total offense (325.1) and 111th in scoring offense (18.4).  Defensively, the Owls are ranked 98th in rushing defense (201.1), T41st in pass defense (211.9), 74th in total defense (413.0) and 89th in scoring defense (31.1).
• Running back Jonathan Wallace leads the Owls’ rushing attack with 382 yards and two touchdowns on 96 carries. Quarterback Graham Wilbert has completed 160 of his 245 pass attempts for 1,570 yards with 12 touchdowns and three interceptions.  Wilbert’s favorite target is William Dukes, who has 34 catches for 480 yards and two touchdowns.  Nexon Dorvilus has four touchdown catches on the year.
• The defense is led by Brent Harstad, who has recorded 71 tackles, two tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles.  David Hinds has been in on 68 tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles.

Navy Vs. The Sun Belt
• Navy is 5-0 all-time against the Sun Belt with victories over Arkansas State, North Texas, Troy and Western Kentucky (twice).
• The Mids travel to Troy next Saturday for a 3:30 pm contest.

The Sunshine State    
• Navy has 18 players from the state of Florida on its roster:  freshman defensive end Will Anthony (Jacksonville), sophomore nose guard A.J. Barnaby (Deltona), freshman guard E.K. Binns (Cape Coral), junior nose guard Travis Bridges (Hollywood), junior corner Albrey Felder (Orange Park), sophomore center Tanner Fleming (Deltona), freshman wide receiver David Frechette (Orange Park), sophomore quarterback John Hendrick (Tampa), sophomore outside linebacker Chris Johnson (Cape Coral), freshman guard Zach Laniewski (Englewood), sophomore slot back Marcus Lewis (Cape Coral), junior linebacker Vinnie Mauro (Ft. Lauderdale), sophomore defensive end Ike McElrath (Milton), freshman tackle Bradford Mills (Ft. Lauderdale), freshman quarterback Ralph Montalvo (Miami), sophomore defensive end Danny Ring (Lighthouse Point), junior guard Thomas Stone (Melbourne) and sophomore linebacker Joe Worth(Valrico).

Looking For Five-Straight Wins
• Navy enters the weekend having won four consecutive games.
• The last time Navy won five in a row was in 2009 when the Mids defeated Western Kentucky, Air Force in overtime, won at Rice, won at SMU in overtime and defeated Wake Forest.  That Navy team went on to post a 10-4 record and defeat Missouri in the Texas Bowl, 35-13.

Second Half Dominance
• Over the last six games (5-1), Navy has outscored the opposition 112-50 in the second half.
• The defense has given up just five touchdowns in the second half of the last six games.

Wetzel A Star In And Out Of The Classroom
• Outside linebacker Keegan Wetzel has enjoyed a spectacular senior campaign, recording 45 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, six sacks, a pass break-up and a fumble recovery this season.
• He leads the Mids in sacks and tackles for a loss.
• He is just two sacks away from third place on Navy’s single-season sack list.
• Wetzel is also a star in the classroom, carrying a 3.89 grade point average in systems engineering (honors courses).  He is an Academic All-America candidate
• Wetzel scored a perfect 1600 on his SAT test and is believed to be the only current FBS player that garnered a perfect score on his SAT.

Mids Consistently Among Nation’s Top Rushing Teams
• Over the last 11 years, Navy has consistently been one of the top rushing teams in the country, never finishing lower than sixth.
• In 2002, Navy finished third in the country in rushing, averaging 270.8 yards per game.
• In 2003, Navy led the nation in rushing, averaging a then school-record 323.2 yards per game.  That is the fifth-best rushing average for a team over the last 10 years.
• In 2004, Navy finished third in the country in rushing, averaging 289.5 yards per game.
• In 2005, Navy led the country in rushing for the second time in three years, averaging 318.7 yards per game. The 318.7 yards per game is the seventh-best rushing average by a team in the last 10 years.
• Navy finished the 2006 campaign averaging a nation’s-best and then school-record 327.0 yards per game.  That is the fourth-best rushing average by a team in the last 10 years.
• The Mids rushed for a school-record 348.8 yards per game in 2007, becoming the first team in NCAA history to lead the nation in rushing three-consecutive years.   The 348.8 yards rushing is the second-best rushing average by a team in the last 10 years.  Only the 2000 Nebraska team (349.3) rushed for more over that time period.
• The 348.8 yards per game are the most yards rushing by a FBS team since Nebraska averaged 349.3 yds/gm in 2000.
• In 2008, Navy led the country in rushing for an unprecedented fourth-straight year, averaging 292.4 yds/gm.
• In 2009, Navy finished fourth in the nation in rushing, averaging 280.5 yds/gm.
• In 2010, the Mids finished sixth in the country in rushing offense, averaging 284.8 yds/gm.
• In 2011, Navy finished fourth in the country in rushing, averaging 312.3 yards per game.
• The Mids are averaging 271.1 yards per game this fall, which is the sixth-best rushing mark in the country.

Navy Offense In The Red Zone    
• Navy is 84th nationally in red zone offense, scoring on 24-of-31 chances (.770).
• Navy has scored 18 touchdowns (14 rushing, four passing), kicked six field goals, lost the ball once on downs and turned it over five times (three lost fumbles and two interceptions).

Navy Defense In The Red Zone    
• The Mids are tied for 65th in the country in red zone defense, allowing 23 scores on 28 opportunities.
• The opposition has scored 14 touchdowns (10 rushing, four passing), kicked nine field goals, missed a field goal, turned it over on downs twice, lost a fumble and threw an interception against Navy’s defense.

A’s Make Plays    
• Navy’s slot backs (or A-Backs as they are technically called) had a monster game against East Carolina rushing for 350 yards and two touchdowns on 40 carries (8.8 yards per carry).  It is the second-most yards rushing by the slots in the triple option era. In 2008 the slot backs rushed for 381 yards against Towson, thanks in large part to Shun White’s school-record 348 yards rushing.
• Over the last two games, the Navy slot backs have rushed for 514 yards and three touchdowns on 65 carries (7.9 yards per carry).

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