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February 14, 2013

FIU Baseball Picked Second in Preseason SBC Poll

The FIU baseball team has been predicted to finish second in the 2013 Sun Belt Conference Coaches' Preseason Poll, as voted on by the league's 10 head coaches. Junior pitcher Mike Ellis and sophomore catcher Aramis Garcia were chosen as part of the preseason All-SBC Team.

Garcia is coming off a solid rookie campaign where he started 49 games and played in 55 as a true freshman. The former 20th-round draft pick by the Cardinals returns as FIU's leading home run hitter with six, and looks to anchor a potent FIU lineup. Along with his six round-trippers, Garcia hit .271 (55-for-192) with 29 RBI, 24 runs scored, eight doubles and a triple. In his first-career at bat at Rice, he doubled off the left field wall, showing why he was a highly-touted prospect coming out of Pines Charter High School. Not only did he perform on the field, he was equally successful off the field as he was recognized by the conference on the Commissioner's Honor Roll for having a 3.5 GPA or higher.

Ellis was the backbone of an FIU pitching staff that led the conference in strikeouts and opponent batting average. The talented pitcher from north of the border finished the 2012 season with a 3-2 record and a team-leading 3.13 ERA (5th in SBC) in 14 starts (15 appearances) on his way to winning FIU's Most Improved Player award. Primarily the Saturday night starter, Ellis took over the Friday night role late in the season at FAU (May 18) and went 6 1/3 innings while giving up a run and striking out eight. He struck out a team-high 88 batters in 83 1/3 innings and had a career-high 12 strikeouts against ULM. Ellis had six quality starts and only gave up more than three earned runs twice during the year. He also faced a bases loaded situation 10 times and did not allow a runner to score, showing his calm under pressure.

The Panthers kick off the 2013 slate at home with a three-game series against 2012 College World Series participant Stony Brook. First pitch on opening day is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 15 at 6:00 p.m., followed by a 4:00 p.m. game on Saturday and a 1:00 p.m. start on Sunday.


2013 Preseason All-Sun Belt Baseball Team

Chance Cleveland (UALR, Senior, RHP)
Austin Gomber (Florida Atlantic, Sophomore, LHP)
Michael Ellis (FIU, Junior, RHP)
Johnathan Frebis (Middle Tennessee, Sophomore, LHP)
Nate Hill (Troy, Senior, LHP)
Aramis Garcia (FIU, Sophomore, Catcher)
Mark Nelson (Florida Atlantic, Senior, 1B)
Logan Kirkland (South Alabama, Sophomore, 2B
Dustin Jones (Arkansas State, Junior, SS)
Logan Pierce (Troy, Senior, 3B)
Logan Uxa (Arkansas State, Senior, OF)
Trent Miller (Middle Tennessee, Junior, OF)
Danny Collins (Troy, Junior, OF)
Whitt Dorsey (South Alabama, Senior, DH)
Jordan Patterson (South Alabama, Junior, UTIL)

2013 Preseason Player of the Year
Logan Pierce (Troy, Senior, 3B)

2013 Preseason Pitcher of the Year
Chance Cleveland (UALR, Senior, RHP)

2013 SBC Coaches Predicted Order of Finish (first place votes)

1. Florida Atlantic (5) - 89 pts
2. FIU (1) - 85 pts
3. South Alabama - 67 pts
4. Troy - 61 pts
5. Arkansas State (1) - 60 pts
6. Middle Tennessee (1) - 56 pts
7. Western Kentucky - 42 pts
8. Louisiana-Lafayette (1) - 39 pts
9. Louisiana-Monroe (1) - 31 pts
10. UALR - 20 pts


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