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Austin Gomber was selected as a preseason All-Sun Belt selection in 2013. ( file photo)


The team to beat

FAU baseball picked to repeat as Sun Belt champions. Nelson and Gomber receive All-Conference nods.

Originally published on 2/11/2013

by Chuck King

Florida Atlantic's baseball team is the favorite to claim the Sun Belt Conference's crown according the to the Sun Belt preseason coaches poll released Monday.

First baseman Mark Nelson and pitcher Austin Gomber also garnered preseason All-Conference team honors.

Coming off a 2012 that saw the Owls claim the regular season title, FAU returns six starters to their 2013 line-up. The Owls received five first place votes from Sun Belt coaches.

Nelson hit .290 with seven homers and 45 RBI for the Owls as a junior in 2012 and is expected to be one of the big bats in FAU's lineup.

A 6-foot-5, 205-pound lefthander Gomber started 12 games as a freshman last season, posting a 3-4 record with a 3.82 ERA. He is in the mix, along with Jeremy Strawn and Kevin Alexander, to replace Ryan Garton as the Friday starter.

FAU is proving to be a consensus choice to win the Sun Belt. Baseball America and Perfect Game also picked the Owls to claim the conference top spot in earlier prognostications.

The Owls open their season on Friday against Cincinnati.

The 2013 season will be the Owls' last as a member of the Sun Belt. FAU will compete as a member of Conference USA beginning in the fall of 2013.

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Breakdown Box

Sun Belt Preseason Poll

1. Florida Atlantic (5) - 89 pts
2. FIU (1) - 85 pts
3. South Alabama  - 67 pts
4. Troy  - 61 pts
5. Arkansas State (1) - 60 pts
6. Middle Tennessee (1) - 56 pts
7. Western Kentucky  - 42 pts
8. Louisiana-Lafayette (1) - 39 pts
9. Louisiana-Monroe (1) - 31 pts
10. UALR  - 20 pts


Preseason All-Sun Belt

Chance Cleveland (UALR, Sr, RHP)
Austin Gomber (Florida Atlantic, So, LHP)
Michael Ellis (FIU, Jr, RHP)
Johnathan Frebis (Middle Tennessee, So, LHP)
Nate Hill (Troy, Sr, LHP)
Aramis Garcia (FIU, So, Catcher)
Mark Nelson (Florida Atlantic, Sr, 1B)
Logan Kirkland (South Alabama, So, 2B
Dustin Jones (Arkansas State, Jr, SS)
Logan Pierce (Troy, Sr, 3B)
Logan Uxa (Arkansas State, Sr, OF)
Trent Miller (Middle Tennessee, Jr, OF)
Danny Collins (Troy, Jr, OF)
Whitt Dorsey (South Alabama,  Sr, DH)
Jordan Patterson (South Alabama, Jr, UTIL)

Player of the Year
Logan Pierce (Troy, Sr, 3B)

Pitcher of the Year
Chance Cleveland (UALR, Sr, RHP)


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