USF (19-21) vs. Florida International (19-22)
When: Tonight, 6:30 p.m.
Where: USF Baseball Stadium
Radio: 1040 AM
Probable pitchers: USF RHP Michael Clarkson (1-3, 4.29 ERA) vs. FIU RHP Michael Agis (0-1, 7.99 ERA)
Despite coming into tonight’s matchup with similar records, the two teams are trending in opposite directions.
USF has lost four straight series dating back to Mar. 27 when they closed out a series win over Dartmouth. The Bulls are 5-10 in that span.
USF dropped its series against Houston this past weekend after falling to the cougars 7-5 in a rain shortened game Sunday.
FIU, on the other hand, is coming off a big series win over No. 17 FAU. Despite losing the series finale 9-1 to the Owls, FIU took Games 1 and 2 with FAU fresh off a 4-3 win over top-ranked Miami.
A look at the pitchers
Clarkson is 1-3 on the season with five starts and 35.2 innings pitched. The redshirt senior’s last start came against on April 19 in a 6-2 win over Bethune Cookman. Clarkson struck out a career-high seven batters over seven innings – a game in which he retired 10 batters in a row at one point.
The biggest matchup for Clarkson will be against FIU infielder Nick Day who leads the team with seven home runs this season with a .317 batting average. Clarkson leads USF with four homers given up this season with an opponent’s batting average of .259.
For the Panthers, Agis is 0-1 on the season with a team-high ERA of 7.99 in 23.2 innings.
Odds and ends
Outfielder Garrett Zech is first in the country in sacrifice bunts (15) and second in sacrifice bunts per game (0.38). The USF pitching staff is eight in the nation with 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings. Outfielder Luke Maglich's 0.62 stolen bases per game is 14th best in the country.
Pitcher Brandon Lawson was named to the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Watch List on April 20. The junior right-hander is 3-3 this season with a team-low 2.25 earned run average, while leading the AAC with 73 strikeouts in 60.0 innings pitched.
This series against FIU begins a seven-game homestand for USF that includes opponents UCF beggining Friday and Tulane on May 6.