Gratton connects for two homeruns in the loss
Florida Atlanticís pitching was no match for Florida Internationalís offense as the south Florida rival assembled 17 hits and 12 runs en route to an 12-4 win Thursday night at FAU baseball stadium.
FIU's Garret Wittels' 45-game hitting streak didnít take too long to reach 46-games either, as he knocked in an RBI double off FAU starting pitcher Ryan Garton in the first.
Garton struggled early giving up five hits and four runs in the first two frames before finding some control in the third, sitting down the batters 1-2-3.
"We couldnít stop it. It snowballed on us and we couldnít stop it", said Head Coach John McCormack.
Shortstop Nick DelGuidice hit a first pitch homerun deep over the left field wall in the top of the second which was followed by a blast by Colby Graton to cut the lead to 4-2.
Centerfielder Anthony Mesa then connected on another in the third to leadoff for the Owls, who looked poised for a big inning until Eddie Cassidy struck out with runners in scoring position.
"We were not able to get anybody on (base) before those guys" McCormack stated. And that had to have hurt, as the Owls didnít score afterwards.
Retiring the first two batters in the fourth, Garton looked good until an error by Joey Burkhalter led to a Pablo Bermudez two run homer that cleared the right field wall.
"Burkhalter made the error with two outs and then Pablo Bermudez hit the homerun", McCormack said. "That deflated us."
FIU starter R.J. Fondon picked off Ryan Church and Mesa in different innings.
"We were trying to be aggressive and that stuff happens", McCormack expressed.
The Panthers have been known to throw at base runners this season, and lead the Sun Belt in pickoffs with 18.
Senior reliever Lou Morey, who came on for the Owls to relieve Garton in the sixth, impressed initially but had a bad seventh when he allowed three runs on five hits.
RJ Fondon got the win for FIU, and star hitter Wittels finished 2-5 with an RBI and 2 strikeouts.
Gratton finished the day 2-4 with two homeruns to lead the Owls.
Garton took the loss while going five innings, with seven runs (four earned), no walks, and four strikeouts.
FAU will face the Panthers again on Friday at 6:30 for part two of the three game series, and have a good chance at redemption with ace Mike Gipson on the mound.
"Long series of baseball ahead of us, we have been in this position before", McCormack insisted. "Gip has always been good for us, so I donít see why not now."