Just got back from FIU's media availability, but wanted to let you know ASAP: R.J. Fondon (5-3, 4.40 ERA) will start against Texas A&M in the opener. While Scott Rembisz (9-4, 4.76) has clearly been the hottest pitcher on FIU's staff, coach Turtle Thomas said that Fondon had grown into the Friday starter role, plus was the staff's most rested, having thrown just a handful of innings since last Wednesday. Full transcript to come.
UPDATE: Here's the transcript:
Coach Turtle Thomas’ opening statement:
“Our starting pitcher tomorrow is going to be sophomore left-hander R.J. Fondon, who has been our Friday night starter for quite some time now. We started out the season really well. We wont the first seven games in a row, sweeping Maryland, sweeping Oral Roberts .And then for about two months, we went about .500 ball. Win one, lose one. Lately, we won nine out of our last 12, really starting with South Alabama. We swept them in a nice three-game series at home. We went over to FAU and only won one out of three, but all three games could have gone our way. And then once we got through that first game in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, we really took off and won five games in a row, literally on the brink of elimination. Obviously, you lose another game in the losers’ bracket, then that’s pretty much it. Our guys played pretty well. We swung the bat really well. Our pitchers threw as good as they could possibly throw in the conference tournament, so we feel like we’re ready to go this weekend.”
Q. Turtle, what went into the decision of starting R.J. over Scott Rembisz?
THOMAS: “Basically speaking, R.J.’s been the Friday night guy all along. He’s our Friday night starter, actually our Friday afternoon starter coming up. R.J.’s just been the Friday guy for a while. He deserves that spot. We could have thrown Aaron [Arboleya], we could have thrown Scott. All three of them are good. And obviously, all of them had pretty good conference tournaments, with Scott actually having the best of the three.”
Q. How fresh are their arms?
THOMAS: “Well, we did push them pretty hard during the conference tournament. We hope they’re going to be able to bounce back and recover. You’ve got to think R.J.’s only thrown three innings since last Wednesday. So literally, over the course of nine to 10 days, he threw about five, six innings that first game, and then three between now and then.”
Q. Turtle, how much do you know about Texas A&M?
THOMAS: “The unknown in regionals is, you have a situation that you have played that team this year. None of the three teams we played this year, but I think the situation is the same for anybody in this tournament. What you do, is when the tournament is announced on Monday, you try to get as many scouting reports and talk to as many people as you know that have played that team, and try to figure out how to pitch to them, try to figure out the starting pitcher and their main reliever, their closer, try to make a game-plan how to hit against them. That’s what you do. We’ve gotten five or six scouting reports, just like I’m sure A&M has against us. It’s a situation where you think you know them, but as the game goes on and on, you learn more about how they’re swinging against your pitcher and how our hitters can hopefully solve their starting pitcher.”
Q. This is a question for Garrett Wittels. They’re going throw their ace tomorrow, Barret Loux. What’s the challenge of facing one of the best pitchers in the nation?
WITTELS: “We’ve prepared for him. We’re ready to go. I’ll take our lineup against anyone, really. We’re just trying to go out there and swing the bats like we’ve been swinging it, and just go out there and play the game hard, have fun. Hopefully we can score some runs and our pitching can hold them down and we can hold a game. I know they’re a great team. I know they come from Texas, which is great baseball. We’re just going to go out there and try to win a baseball game.”