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Everybody Clicks, Gonzo's Back & RPI Watch

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It was like I hadn't been paying rapt attention these past few months.

By merely suggesting that one Owl would explode offensively this past weekend at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston, I haphazardly ignored the reason behind the Owls' recent uptick in offensive proficiency. The Owls have thrived because of a collective effort at the plate, their barrage of runs coming courtesy of Jr. RF Chad Mozingo setting up permanent residence atop the order, So. CF/DH Jeremy Rathjen finding a home in the 3-hole, Sr. C/DH Diego Seastrunk providing protection for cleanup hitter Anthony Rendon, and Sr. 1B Jimmy Comerota channeling his inner Lou Gehrig. Several Owls have been responsible for this avalanche, so it was no surprise when everyone chipped in during the series win at Marshall.

Rendon paced the club with seven RBIs and three home runs, but those were his lone base knocks of the series as he hit .231/.267/.923. His slugging percentage was bested by both Sr. CF Steven Sultzbaugh and GDG, both of whom slugged 1.000. Sultzbaugh homered twice while GDG matched Rendon with a dozen total bases via a team-leading three doubles and his fifth home run. The leader in walks? Mozingo with five, but he didn't lead the way in on-base percentage. That distinction was shared by RS So. LF Michael Fuda and GDG, who reached base at a .600 clip. Fuda paced the Owls in hitting (.538) and runs scored (six) despite batting near the bottom of the order. The Owls aren't averaging 10.8 runs/game since April 1 and haven't reached double digits in runs 11 times over that 21-game span because one player is shouldering the load. The entire lineup is responsible for this breathtaking surge.

Despite the gaudy numbers posted by the offense, the most positive development of the trip to West Virginia was Jr. LHP Abel Gonzales emerging from his five-appearance slump. Before he took the mound at Jay Bergman Field in Orlando on April 17, Gonzo had strung together six consecutive outings where he did not allow an earned run, over which time he lowered his ERA to 1.78. In the five appearances that started with his outing against UCF, Gonzo surrendered seven runs on 16 hits and one walk over 7 2/3 innings while striking out five. His WHIP during that span was 2.22; his ERA of 8.22 led to his season ERA ballooning to 3.08.

Gonzo was shaky in his first appearance of the weekend, allowing two hits and uncorking a wild pitch while retiring just one batter. In the series finale he was dominant, entering with one out in the seventh and finishing off the Owls' 14-4 win by fanning five and allowing one single. The OG had challenged Gonzo to believe in his stuff, and Gonzo heeded the advice. The results spoke loudly, and should help reverse a negative trend for the inconsistent bullpen.

The Owls' 4-1 week had more of an impact on their positioning in the polls, where they were elevated a couple spots across the board, than in the all-important RPI, where they remain in the 26/27 range. According to the Nitty Gritty Report, the Owls would be well served to win their remaining two road contests as well as sweep aside UAB at The Reck in a couple of weeks. The upcoming showdown with red-hot Southern Miss could settle the top overall seed for the Conference USA tournament, and it will represent the Owls' final shot to at least slightly boost their RPI. But in truth, the Owls need a ton of external aid to present an RPI robust enough to merit hosting an NCAA Tournament regional at The Reck. At this point, all they can do is follow the mantra of maniacal Oakland Raiders owner/patriarch Al Davis: Just Win, Baby!

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Appreciate the statistical analysis, MK. Quite an offensive surge, to say the least.

Did the Owls make it home to Houston yesterday, or just head straight to Stillwater?

Any feel for who might pitch tomorrow night? Chargois perhaps? Boogie?

wheredidmypantsgo: Yes, the team flew back from Charleston on Sunday, departing Yeager Airport at 5:35p and landing at IAH around 7:20p. They will depart for Oklahoma City at 9ish Tuesday morning and bus from OKC to Stillwater upon their arrival in Oklahoma. The Owls will return to Houston on Wednesday afternoon. Also, The OG announced that Chargois will start against Oklahoma State but that most of the lefthanders can expect to see action against the Cowboys. - MK

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