CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Less than 24 hours before their first NCAA post-season game in 22 seasons, the Colonial Athletic Association champion Tiger baseball team held a 75-minute workout at Boshamer Stadium on Thursday afternoon.
The Tigers held their workout in very warm temperatures immediately after Florida Atlantic started the day with its practice session.
“We had a little fun out there working out in such a great facility,” said Coach Mike Gottlieb, who also led the Tigers to the 1988 and 1991 NCAA Tournaments.
“It’s such a great thing for our kids to get a taste of playing college baseball in the post-season,” explained Gottlieb, who spoke to the media after practice. “With everything we’ve had to go through, this is a great way to top off the season.”
Although the Tigers come into the NCAA Regional with a four-game winning streak and six victories in their last seven outings, Gottlieb doesn’t feel his team comes into the regional with a lot of momentum.
“We are playing very well,” he added. “However, I learned a long time ago that momentum is only as good as the next day’s starting pitcher. We are going with Mike Volpe and he is pitching with six days’ rest. That will be a change for him since he pitched on two days’ rest on Saturday when he beat William & Mary.”
The Chapel Hill regional features four conference champions who earned their conference’s automatic qualifier. Host North Carolina won the Atlantic Coast Conference title while Florida Atlantic was the Sun Belt Conference champion. While Towson won the CAA championship, Canisius won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title.
Like the Tigers, Florida Atlantic won its conference tournament as a lower seed. Both teams were seeded fourth in their conference tournaments and won the title by going 4-0. While the Tigers enter the NCAA regional with a four-game winning streak, the Owls have won 11 games in a row.
The Owls are ranked 23rd in the nation this week.
The most notable difference between Towson and FAU seems to be the pitching staffs. While the Tigers have a 5.13 team E.R.A., the Owls own a 3.60 E.R.A. Offensively, the Tigers have a .294 team batting average with 406 runs scored while FAU is batting .289 with 333 runs scored.
The Tigers also seem to have an edge in the power numbers with a .455 slugging percentage while FAU has a .416 mark. Towson has 127 doubles, 21 triples and 52 home runs while FAU has hit 103 doubles with 18 triples and 38 homers.
Both teams are outstanding defensive teams. Towson has a .973 fielding percentage with an NCAA-leading 79 double plays while FAU has a .971 fielding mark and has 42 double plays.
TIGER TALES: While Towson is making its third-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament, Florida Atlantic is making its eighth NCAA Tournament appearance since becoming a Division I program in 1994 … In 2002, the Owls reached the NCAA Super Regional after beating Alabama for the NCAA regional title … Florida Atlantic lost to Georgia Tech in the NCAA Super Regional.
Towson and Florida Atlantic did not play any common opponents this season … The Tigers didn’t play any Sun Belt Conference teams and the Owls didn’t play any CAA teams.
Towson will be the visiting team in Friday’s opener and will wear its black uniform tops, the preference of Volpe … Florida Atlantic will wear its home white uniforms.
The winner of the Towson-FAU game will face the winner of the North Carolina-Canisius game on Saturday while the Towson-FAU loser will play the North Carolina-Canisius loser.
The Towson-FAU game will be broadcast on ESPN3 with Jones Angell and John Manuel calling the action … The game will also be aired on www.TowsonTigers.com with Spiro Morekas and Dan O’Connell describing the action.