Today is the day, college baseball fans! The season is finally here, and what better way is there to celebrate Opening Day than by streaming the 2021 Snowbird Baseball series on FloBaseball?
Two gritty programs, Indiana State and Pittsburgh, will face off in a three-game set this weekend in Port Charlotte, Florida. Let’s get to know these teams.
The Sycamores are coming off an 8-6 season in 2020. They were just starting to figure it out heading into conference competition, having routed Kansas 9-3 and 8-2 in their final two contests of the year.
The program’s biggest story coming into 2021 is left-handed pitcher Tyler Grauer. Receiving Preseason First Team All-American honors by NCBWA, Grauer is the only non-Power Five pitcher to make this prestigious list.
He had 23 strikeouts in 11.1 innings over seven appearances as the team’s closer, including five saves.
The Sycamores also return two other important arms in Tristan Weaver and Cam Edmonson. Weaver, another left-hander, led the team last year with 24.2 innings and 34 strikeouts. He also glistened a 1.85 ERA and .100 batting average against.
His two most impressive outings came in back-to-back starts against Dartmouth and Elon, fanning 11 and 12 batters and surrendering no runs.
Edmonson, another southpaw, handed over just four runs over 18.1 innings. A freshman in 2020, Edmonson showed versatility for Indiana State with two starts and three relief appearances.
Indiana State’s offense hit .244 as a collective, but they showed much promise in those last two games against a Big 12 opponent.
They return many bats to the 2021 roster, including Jordan Schaffer and Dominic Cusumano.
Schaffer led the team with a .339 average and .406 on-base percentage last year, which in turn got him to score 12 times. He will be the table-setter once more for Indiana State.
As a freshman, Cusumano logged two or more hits in five of his 12 games played. He finished the 2020 campaign hitting .318.
Other hitters to keep an eye out for are Brian Fuentes, Sean Ross, Miguel Rivera, Grant Magill and Diego Gines.
Fuentes notched two homers and 11 RBI and finished the season on a 10-game hitting streak.
Ross, Rivera, and Magill also smacked four doubles each to tie for the team lead. Gines ended his season red-hot on a six-game hit streak with six runs batted in.
The Panthers finished their 2020 season with a 10-6 record, but on a five-game losing streak. A loss to Youngstown State, a sweep by Miami, and a final loss to South Florida may have dampened a phenomenal 10-1 start, but the Panthers look into 2021 very confident in their roster.
They began their 2020 season with a win over - you guessed it - Indiana State in the Snowbird Classic on Opening Day. Hoping that history will repeat itself today, the Panthers will field many returning student-athletes.
Led by Kyle Hess, Pittsburgh has five returning hitters who slashed .300 or higher last season.
Hess sparkled all 2020, hitting .373 with nine doubles, two home runs, 20 RBI, and a 1.052 OPS. Hess finished the year on a seven-game hitting streak, totaling 13 hits over the span.
Bryce Hulett and Riley Wash each clipped over .330 and had 10 RBI apiece. Sky Duff and David Yanni also made it to the .300 threshold, combinig for 25 runs and 10 doubles.
One last bat to be on the lookout for is Ron Washington Jr. Despite batting .231, Washington Jr. provided a ton of power, crushing four home runs and five doubles.
The Panthers pitching staff also garners a slew of returning players.
Junior right-hander Matt Gilbertson dominated in four starts with a 1.13 ERA. He did not allow an earned run in his first three starts (19 innings), so expect Gilbertson to be a horse yet again for Pittsburgh in 2021.
Starting pitchers Mitch Myers and Billy Corcoran help round out the rotation. Corcoran finished last year with a dazzling 0.93 WHIP in four starts with 28 punch-outs in 22 frames. Myers was also a strikeout machine, going for 30 in just 23 innings.
We have all waited patiently for today. To reward yourself, sit back, relax, and stream the Snowbird Classic, only on FloBaseball.
PJ has played and worked in baseball for over 20 years as a pitcher, broadcaster, writer, and editor. A former Cape Cod League and Coastal Plain League broadcaster, his favorite time of the year is during the College World Series to see former players he worked alongside.