For FAU, the three-game series that starts 6 p.m. Thursday at FIU Baseball Stadium represents a chance to keep the train rolling at streak speed into the Sun Belt Conference tournament.
For FIU, the series represents a chance to stop plunging toward a regular season ending splat.
Thursday finds the teams in different places than they were in March, when FIU lost 2 of 3 in Boca Raton. Blame pitching and defense.
Both teams hit.
FIU has four .300 hitters — sophomore Aramis Garcia (.342), freshman Edwin Rios (.323), junior Zach Sweety (.322) and sophomore Julius Gaines (.308) — among its daily players and a team average of .289. Rios and junior Josh Anderson are tied for third among Sun Belt players in doubles, Nathan Burns is tied for second in triples; Garcia is fifth in RBI and fourth in home runs.
FAU has four .322 hitters — freshman Brendon Sanger (.344), junior Levi Meyer (.331), senior Nathan Pittman (.326) and sophomore Mitch Morales (.322) — among its daily players and a team average of .283.
FIU (25-27, 13-14) has lost 11 of its past 13 as its pitching, which began the year hanging more zero-run innings on opponents than the Marlins have had hung on them, sinks in West Dade. Panthers pitchers sit tied for last in the Sun Belt in ERA (5.05). FIU also sits last in fielding (.958).
Meanwhile, FAU (32-20, 16-11) comes in with a four-game winning streak and a chance to finish as high as second in the Sun Belt.
The Owls own the Sun Belt’s best ERA (3.83), led by sophomore Austin Gomber’s 3.04, and sit fourth in fielding (.970).