FAU Moves on To Friday's Action
After yesterday's crushing defeat by Middle Tennessee, Florida Atlantic looked to rebound and keep it's tournament play alive. They took care of business at hand today, defeating rival Florida International by a final score of 16-6. It would be the third win over the Panthers this season.
"Any conference tournament is going to be a roller coaster of emotions," said FAU head coach John McCormack.
The Owls were smacked for 12 runs in the loss to the Blue Raiders yesterday and could not have drawn a better emotionally motivating opponent than the Panthers of FIU for game two.
The two teams enjoyed a charged series to conclude regular the season at FAU Stadium that saw the Owls come away with a two games to one series win. Having their only loss come in game three in convincing fashion, they would enjoy nothing better than to send the Panthers home early.
And what better way to do that than by the mercy rule?
FAU got on the board quickly assuming the lead 1-0 after the first inning, but that did not last long as Owl hurler Mike Gipson hit three Panther batters to load the bags in the top of the second. FIU would pick up two runs from the barrage of lumps after a single by Bermudez.
The Owls were productive again in the bottom of the second when Anthony Mesa scored on a wild pitch. Later, Jeremy Griffiths (3 for 5) hit his sixth homer on the year to push the Owls lead to 4-2.
The score could have been more lopsided than it was. FAU had the bags loaded twice in both the 1st and 3rd innings, but Panther starter Tom Ebert worked his way out of jams each time while striking out the last Owls' batter to threaten.
However, he would not be so fortunate in the fourth inning as FAU blasted out 6 runs; chasing him from the mound in favor of right hander Eric Berkowitz.
FAU had a chance to invoke the mercy rule in the top of the seventh when FIU trailed 13-3. But back to back homers by the Alfonso and Bermudez squelched the possibility.
But the next time around, FAU capitalized behind a two run bomb by Travis Ozga that scored Tom Hatcher, who was 3 for 5 including two doubles.
The lead was never seriously in jeopardy today, although the Panthers did drive out four solo shots in the contest.
Mike Gipson picks up his fourth win on the year for FAU, while Ebert took the loss for the Panthers. "Mike (Gipson) was huge for us," said McCormack.
The Owls will move on to face the winner of the Louisiana-Lafayette (5th seed) versus Middle Tennessee (1st seed) game for their third contest of the tournament tomorrow morning. First pitch is scheduled for 10:00AM EST.