C-USA Tournament Preview: FIU
How Tech Lost to Rice
There were a lot of (warranted) complaints about the umpire for Tech’s first game of the 2018 tournament. I don’t fault the up as much as I fault Tech’s response to his strike zone.
The umpire today/yesterday was calling a “tight” zone. Which means that if a pitch is a borderline strike, it will usually be called a ball. I have no qualms about this, as long as the ump makes the same calls for both teams. And for the most part, he was.
Tech lost the game because Rice had the more patient hitters. If you know an umpire is calling a lot of balls, you need to take (as in not swing at) pitches that will often be called balls to force the opposing pitcher to throw down-the-middle strikes. And those pitches are the ones that are easier to hit.
Another issue was
Zeus Thor the weather, but that probably impacted both teams about equally.
On to FIU
Yesterday, before losing 7-4 in the opening round, FIU kept up with FAU for the majority of the game. After all the
government controlled weather phenomena, the Panthers are also the more rested team.
Tech took 2 of 3 from FIU in Ruston during the last weekend of March. Tech shutout the Panthers in the first game, but the next two were Sonny Dykes-esque shootouts, with scores of 7-6 and 9-7.
How FIU Can Win
FIU is very good at hitting those small, round spheres out of the grassy area. So, unsurprisingly, the Panthers are 10th in the country in Home Runs per game. This could definitely be a problem for a Tech pitching staff that is pretty depleted following a multi-day loss to Rice.
How Tech Can Win
FIU walks a lot of batters. They are 185th in the nation at giving free passes to first. If Tech can take advantage of some lessons that should have been learned during the Rice game, they should be able to stay in the tournament.
I hope I am wrong, but I see FIU winning this game. This prediction is almost entirely based on the amount of rest the Panthers had. Tech was kept up late last night with the promise they could finish the game and then had to play a few innings this afternoon (that were also weather delayed). That creates a lot of havoc in a sport that heavily relies on routines.
Tech is the better team here, but the better team doesn’t always win the game.