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Baseball Opens Conference Schedule Hosting Indian River State on Tuesday
March 3, 2014 - The first of 24 baseball games that will determine Eastern Florida's postseason fate will be played on Tuesday as the Titans host Indian River State College.
First pitch in the Florida College System Activities Association Southern Conference opener is 6 p.m. at Bruce Bochy Field on the Melbourne Campus. Admission is free.
The teams meet again at 3 p.m. Wednesday in Fort Pierce. Conference foe Broward College then visits Eastern Florida for games at 6 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday.
Eastern Florida heads into Tuesday's game at 10-5, ranked seventh in the FCSAA Coaches Poll, 15th in the NCJAA Division I national poll but seeking to break a two-game losing streak.
Indian River is 8-9 and also the loser of two straight.
Each Southern conference team plays the other six times. This season the top two finishers from the four conferences — Southern, Panhandle, Suncoast and Mid-Florida — automatically qualify for the FCSAA/NJCAA Region 8 tournament May 14-23 at Lakeland's Joker Marchant Stadium.
The four third-place teams hold two playoffs with winners also advancing to the state tournament for a total of 10 teams.
Miami Dade College won the conference last season. Palm Beach State and Brevard Community College (now Eastern Florida) finished second and third respectively and advanced to the Southern Conference tournament which Palm Beach won in three games en route to the state championship and a national runner-up finish.
Heading into Tuesday, freshman first baseman and designated hitter Alessandro Lima is leading Eastern Florida at the plate hitting .429 with 24 hits in 56 at bats. Freshman outfielder Christian Diaz leads in runs batted in with 18, two more than Lima. Sophomore shortstop J.J. Gould is second in hits with 22 and second in batting average at .423.
Diaz also has a team-best three home runs, three triples, 10 extra base hits and 38 total bases. He also has four doubles.
Sophomore right hander Kenton Hering leads the starting pitchers with a 2-0 record, a 1.71 earned run average and 24 strikeouts in 21 innings. Hering also has a save.
Sophomore right hander Alec Lamrouex also is 2-0 while classmate and right hander Jon Piriz leads in innings pitched with 27.2.
Eastern Florida is 5-3 at Bruce Bochy Field and 5-2 on the road.