February 14, 2013

Rhody Baseball Opens Season at No. 9 Florida State on ESPN3


The Rhode Island baseball team opens the 2013 season Friday afternoon at #9 Florida State, with the game airing live on ESPN3 beginning at 4 p.m. The Rams and Seminoles also will play at 2 p.m. on Saturday and at Noon on Sunday. FSU will provide live stats and live audio for all three games.

The Basics
Rhode Island: 0-0 (Game Notes)
Florida State: 0-0 (Game Notes)
Location: Tallahassee, Fla. - Mike Martin Field at Dick Howser Stadium
Dates: Feb. 15-17
First Pitch: Friday at 4 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at Noon

Coverage
Friday (GM1): Watch on ESPN3, Listen, Gametracker, Twitter, Facebook
Saturday (GM2): Listen, Gametracker, Twitter, Facebook
Sunday (GM3): Listen, Gametracker, Twitter, Facebook

The Series
Rhode Island is 0-3 all-time against the Seminoles, dropping a trio of games to FSU last season in Tallahassee. Florida State eased past URI in the opener with a 17-6 victory, but only took games two and three of the series by a combined three runs. In the finale, Rhode Island was one out away from pulling off the biggest upset in school history, but the Rams were unable to hold on to their 5-3, ninth-inning lead over then No. 1 Florida State. Rhody led 4-0 after three innings of play and pushed it to 5-1 in the fourth. The top-ranked Seminoles continued to chip away at the lead though, plating one in the fourth and another in the fifth to make it a 5-3 game. With one away in the bottom of the ninth, the Rams had two chances to end things with a double play but an E6, followed by an E4, allowed FSU to plate a run and make the score 5-4. A strike out followed for the second out of the inning, but a walk then loaded the bases for Florida State's Jayce Boyd, who doubled off the right field wall to push across two runs and give FSU the dramatic comeback victory.

The Weekend's Pitching Matchups

Game 1 - Friday, Feb. 15 - 4 p.m.
Rhode Island - RHP Mike Bradstreet
Florida State - LHP Brandon Leibrandt

Game 2 - Saturday, Feb. 16 - 2 p.m.
Rhode Island - RHP Sean Furney
Florida State - RHP Scott Sitz

Game 3 - Sunday, Feb. 17 - 12 p.m.
Rhode Island - RHP Liam O'Sullivan
Florida State - RHP Peter Miller

Scouting the Rams
Rhody - which returns six position starters and 11 pitchers - was picked to finish second in the Atlantic 10 this season. The Rams welcome back redshirt senior Mike LeBel, who sustained a season-ending injury after just 13 at-bats last year. At that point, he was hitting .538 (7-13) with three extra-base hits, five runs scored, three RBI and three stolen bases. A four-year starter in the Rhode Island infield, LeBel then moved to the Rams' bullpen and made two relief appearances before eventually deciding to undergo surgery and return for a fifth year in 2013.

Rhody also returns four of its top five offensive performers from a year ago in preseason All-American Jeff Roy (.356 AVG, 84 hits, 59 runs, 38 RBI, 22 stolen bases), junior Pat Quinn (.303 AVG, 50 hits, 30 runs, 17 extra base hits), senior Kevin Stenhouse (.303 AVG, .434 OBP) and sophomore Tim Caputo (.303 AVG, 59 hits, 33 runs, 28 RBI, 13 stolen bases).

Senior pitchers Sean Furney and Mike Bradstreet have earned spots in the weekend rotation, along with junior Liam O'Sullivan. A year ago, Furney went 5-1 with a 3.33 ERA and allowed just two home runs over 70.1 innings pitched. He also held No. 1 Florida State to just four hits over 5.1 innings of work in last season's series finale. Bradstreet moves to the starter role after collecting 10 saves as URI's closer in 2012. Finally, O'Sullivan jumps into the weekend rotation after going 5-0 in six starts last year, including a win at ACC rival Boston College.

Scouting the Seminoles
Florida State - which advanced to the 2012 College World Series - returns 19 position players and 10 pitchers from a year ago. Starters Brandon Leibrandt and Scott Sitz lead a pitching staff that combined for a 3.47 ERA last season. At the plate, FSU lost its top four producers from last season - James Ransey, Jayce Boyd, Devon Travis and Sherman Johnson - but the Seminoles return Josh Delph and Justin Gonzalez, who combined for 89 hits, 62 RBI, 61 runs and 16 stolen bases in 2012.