UNF entered Thursday's elimination game with top-seeded FGCU having dropped six straight games and the offense had produced only 21 runs during the recent skid. The Osprey bats came alive against Second-Team All-Atlantic Sun starter, Richie Erath, to the tune of eight hits in three of work - part of a 19-hit attack - in a 13-2 win.
T.J. Thompson led six Ospreys recording multi-hit performances in the contest. They collected four hits and drove in three runs.
"We have been struggling the past couple of weeks," Thompson said "We have just been working on making solid contact, not really caring where the ball goes, just making solid contact and hoping it gets the job done."
FGCU contributed to UNF's struggles, as the Eagles swept a three-game from the Ospreys to close out the regular season. In the series, FGCU outscored UNF 31-10. The Ospreys bettered that three-game run total by three in Thursday's game alone
"During the last week, we were hitting balls right on the screws [but] just right at people," Thompson said. "Last weekend the FGCU center fielder robbed us three or four times. We have been hitting the ball hard the last week. We knew it was just a matter of time before they were going to drop and we were going to score some runs."
"In the last two or three weeks, we've had some really bad injuries, so we've been struggling," UNF head coach Dusty Rhodes said. "We've just been trying to hang. We made the tournament because we did a lot early in the year. But today, when we swing the bat, we can beat anybody. FGCU is a great team - they're ranked in the top 30 in the country - when you get into tournaments you've got to hit to win."
After sending the regular-season champions to the losers bracket, the Ospreys can knock out the defending champions, and their crosstown rival, the Dolphins of Jacksonville. In the process, each win extends the career of head coach Dusty Rhodes, who announced prior to the season that 2010 would be his last in the dugout.
"For the 23 years that I've been here, we've played JU every year, even when they were Division I and we were NAIA - they would always play us," Rhodes said."We have a lot of rivalry and we have a lot of guys on both teams that have played each other in high school so it's going to be a good game. It's a one-game season and we've got to play as hard as we can."
If the bats the Ospreys brought to Thursday's contest make it back for Friday's showdown, they might still have multiple "seasons" left to play.