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UM at FAU tonight; Figueroa waiting and hoping


    UM baseball fans in North Broward and Palm Beach counties won't have to drive as far tonight to watch the Hurricanes (2-1) take on the Owls of Florida Atlantic (3-1).

   FAU Junior right-hander Ryan Garton, the Owls' No. 1 pitcher in 2011, will make his second start of the season tonight against UM left-handed sophomore Steven Ewing. Garton (7-3, 4.78 ERA in 2010) started the season opener last Friday and threw three innings. He was on a pitch count of 50, and got roughed up a bit, allowing four runs on seven hits.

    Had the Owls defeated Florida Tuesday night in Jupiter, this game would have been more intriguing. But as expected, the No. 1 Gators dominated with 18 hits in a 13-2 victory. UM goes to Gainesville March 4-6.

    Expect the Owls, who swept opening weekend by averaging 10 runs a game against Hofstra, to be fired up tonight.

    Of note: FAU hit two homers yesterday, one by Nathan Pittman and one by Eddie Cassidy.

  This will be Ewing's 2011 UM debut. He was 2-2 with a 5.18 ERA last season.

    "I'm really excited,''  Ewing said yesterday. He said last year he started to get "dead arm" after his first two outings, but has been working hard "to get in better shape.'' He played this past summer in the Northwood League in Duluth, Minn.

    Ewing, out of Orlando University High, was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 37th round of the 2009 draft. He was recruited by all the Florida schools and Penn State and Columbia. His SAT score was an impressive 1270. 

    General admission to tonight's game is $10 and reserved seating is $14 at the gate.

    To get to FAU Baseball Stadium, take I-95 to Glades Road in Boca Raton, go east to the main FAU entrance (less than a mile; first FAU entrance you come to on Glades), make a left into the entrance and then go to the first traffic light, hang a left and the stadium is there.

> UM offensive lineman Joel Figueroa will not participate in spring football practice, which begins Saturday, March 5. Figueroa, 6-6 and 323 pounds, had surgery near the end of the season, reportedly on his back -- though former coach Randy Shannon said in early November that the surgery was to a "lower extremity.'' UM applied to the NCAA for a sixth season of eligibility and still is waiting for an answer.

Figueroa graduated from North Miami High. He redshirted his freshman season in 2006. By 2008 he played in all 13 games at right guard with starts against Charleston Southern, Florida, North Carolina and NC State. Shannon switched him to tackle last season, when he started against Ohio State and Pittsburgh, and also played at Clemson. He has had injury problems throughout his career, also sitting out last spring to rehabilitate from shoulder surgery.

The move to tackle didn't work out, and if he returns, he would likely be at guard. For now, according to UM, he can still condition and work out at UM, but will not be part of practice.