Ospreys pitch their way to series win

Spinnaker

The UNF men’s baseball team got the Laval era off to a good start, taking the season-opening three-game series against Charleston Southern 2–1 at CSU Ballpark.The Ospreys had a busy off season, with the changing of the guard as Raymond “Smoke” Laval took over as head coach. They also had almost a 50 percent roster turnover. Laval picked up his first win as coach of the Ospreys Feb. 18.

Laval said it’s good when they win, but the club can’t be judged on wins and losses alone. The team has to keep playing better every week.

In the Ospreys’ first game of the season, they hit their way to a 12-8 victory over CSU. Third baseman Andrew Karmeris started off the 2011 campaign about as well as possible. The junior went 4-for-5, including three doubles and a eighth-inning two-run home run. He tied senior centerfielder Michael Smith with a team-high — three runs scored.

His big game didn’t end at the plate. Karmeris picked up a save, pitching in the ninth inning. He faced the last two batters of the game, sending them both to the dugout, striking one of them out to secure the win.

“I was seeing the ball really well that day,” Karmeris said. “Coach likes us to jump on pitches early. They were giving me stuff to hit all day.”

Pitching was the strongest part of the Ospreys’ weekend. While it was a concern for Laval heading into the season, The Ospreys gave up just two runs in the last two games combined.

The Ospreys dropped the second of the three game series, despite a great performance on the mound from sophomore Paul Karmeris. He pitched 6.0 innings, only giving up five hits, two runs and one earned run. He also struck out seven batters. However, the Ospreys struggled offensively in the 2–1 loss. They only managed five hits and struggled to turn them into runs.

UNF bounced back with a 7–0 win Feb. 20 to wrap up the series victory. Senior pitcher Robbie Collier picked up his first win of the season, throwing 6.1 scoreless innings. Sophomore pitcher Kyle Westwood came in for Collier to finish CSU off. The two pitchers combined to strikeout 11 batters.

“In the second game we just came out a little flat,” Andrew Karmeris said. “Their pitcher was pretty good. He had some good sink to his fast ball and lot of guys were miss-hitting it. We got better the next day.”

The Ospreys will play in the friendly confines of Dusty Rhodes Field at Harmon Stadium for their next 13 games. Their first home game of the season will be Feb. 25 when they start a four-game series against Liberty. There will be a double header Feb. 26, and the series will wrap up Feb. 27.

“If we do well, people are going to start realizing that we’re here to play this year and we are a good team,” Medlen said. “Home field just gives you the confidence. For us to start out with a winning record from our home stand, to go away for a while, it’s going to be huge.”