Raymond Church ties FAU single game record with nine RBI
Raymond Church broke a Sun Belt Tournament single-game record with and tied an FAU record with nine RBI but FIU outlasted FAU 18-16 in 11 innings on Friday night.
The Owls (35-21) will face the Panthers (34-23) again in an elimination game approximately 30 minutes after Troy and Arkansas State play at 10 a.m. eastern on Saturday.
The Panthers (34-23) scored two in the first inning off of FAU starter R.J. Alvarez to take a 2-0 lead.
Alvarez (3-1) lasted only 3.2 innings and allowed six runs off six hits with four walks and one strikeout.
FAU struck back for three runs in the bottom of the first, two off the bat of Scheffler’s RBI double. Church also tallied his first RBI of the game with an infield single.
Pablo Bermudez hit a grand slam off Alvarez to put the Panthers on top 6-4 in the fourth.
However, the Owls responded and scored three runs in both the fourth and fifth frames.
Church connected on a three run shot in the fourth, and FAU followed with three runs in the fifth after Andy Mee hit his third triple of the year and scored on an error during the next at-bat. Church also added an RBI walk in the inning for his fifth RBI of the game.
However the bullpen could not hold the 10-6 lead. FIU scored eight unanswered runs and took a 14-10 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth. Bermudez had the big day for the Panthers on offense going 3-fo-7 with a grand slam and seven RBI.
Nick Delguidice made it 14-12 FIU with a two-run single in the eighth, a deficit FAU took into the ninth.
Barry Rooks helped FAU’s comeback attempt with a scoreless ninth, the first scoreless inning put up by an Owl pitcher since the fifth.
In the bottom of the ninth, Sean Bukovich led off with a walk, then a fielder’s choice by Anthony Mesa put one on and out for Church. The second baseman connected for his second home run of the night and seventh RBI that tied the game at 14-14.
FIU took the lead again with two runs in the top of the 10th off FAU reliever Ryan Bernal.
However, the Owls again got a clutch hit from Church in the bottom half of the inning. A two-run single tied the game at 14-14 and gave the junior nine RBI on the game, which tied him with teammate Nick Delguidice for the FAU all-time single record. It also leaped him over Bermudez for most RBI in a Sun Belt Tournament game. Bermudez broke the record earlier in the game with his RBI double off Hugh Adams in the seventh.
The Owls had a golden opportunity to win the game after Church’s record-breaking hit.
However, with runners and second and third and nobody out, Mee flied out and Scheffler grounded into a 6-2-5 double-play which kept the game alive for FIU.
FIU responded swiftly with two more runs in the 11th off Bernal (6-3) to give them the lead for good at 18-16. The senior picked up the loss after giving up four runs off five hits in two innings of work.
FAU put two on with nobody out in the bottom half of the inning, but two strikeouts and a groundout ended the threat and gave Garrett Wittels his first win of the year on the mound.
Wittels (1-0) extended his hit streak to 52 games in the first inning, then was brought on to pitch on two separate occasions, once in the eighth and finally in the 11th.
The marathon game combined for 34 runs, 37 hits, seven lead changes and was played in 4 hours and 47 minutes.
Tomorrow's game against the Panthers will start approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of the Arkansas State and Troy matchup which is scheduled for 10 a.m. eastern and can be heard live on www.fausports.com.