Seeking A Recovery

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ORLANDO - One can only hope that the Owls' spirits have been rejuvenated after being so thoroughly dominated over the last 4 1/2 innings of their series opener against UCF on Friday night. Given how much energy is expended staggering off of the ropes, the Owls can only hope for the best today. If they are in the doldrums, perhaps Sr. RHP Mike Ojala can help.

Ojala (2-0, 4.50 ERA) will be extended to 70-75 pitches this afternoon. Given his exceptional outing last weekend in New Orleans against Tulane (5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K), the Owls realize that anything similarly as effective will set up their bullpen for a successful finish. LHPs Doug Simmons and Holt McNair both warmed up last night, so both should be raring to go if needed. Fr. RHP Tyler Duffey threw only 19 pitches in completing what So. LHP Taylor Wall started so brilliantly (Wall limited UCF sluggers Shane Brown and Chris Duffy to a combined 0-for-6 with two walks) on Friday, so he too is ready if his No. 42 is called upon on the ninth.

The biggest positive from the early offensive eruption on Friday? So. DH Michael Fuda, whose three-run home run in the second got the party started and, hopefully, signaled an end to his relative slump at the plate. If Fuda can regain his touch with the bat, it spares the offense the strain of fretting too much over Sr. OF Steven Sultzbaugh, who is batting (.297/.366/.432) in Conference USA contests. Fuda will start in left this afternoon, bumping So. OF Jeremy Rathjen (.355/.403/.655 w/7 home runs and 40 RBIs) in 30 games) to center and Sultzbaugh to the bench. If Fuda continues to produce at the plate - he is batting .378/.415/.514 in league play - the Owls won't sweat what they might lose defensively given his cranky right elbow.

Speaking of offense, Jr. RF Chad Mozingo is hitting .568/.623/.727 in league play. That'll work.

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