Team awaits committee choices for potential regional berth
A four run eighth inning by the Panthers was too much to overcome as Florida Atlantic was eliminated in a 11-9 loss to Florida International on day four of the 2010 Sun Belt Conference baseball tournament.
"We came up a couple runs short again", said Coach John McCormack. "It's not great that we lost, but maybe some good things can come out of it."
The Owls (35-22) scored at least one run in each of the first six innings to open up a 9-5 lead in the sixth.
However, the Panthers (35-23) battled from behind and scored six unanswered to close the game and advance to Sunday's championship game.
Jeremy Patton hit the go-ahead home run off closer Andy Mee with two on and one out in the eighth.
Mee (1-2) did not retire a batter and was tagged with the loss. The Sun Belt's save leader allowed two runs off three hits with a walk. Patton's home run came on the second pitch Mee threw to the third baseman.
Raymond Church continued his hot streak at the plate with three more hits and was a single shy of the cycle. Church hit his ninth home run of the season in the fourth inning and tripled home a run in the second. The second baseman finished with 13 RBI during the tournament.
"Every pitch they threw was where I wanted it, it was coming off the bat perfect", said Church.
Taylor Everist got the start for FAU and battled through 7.1 hard fought innings on the hill. The right-hander allowed nine runs (seven earned) off 15 hits but departed with the lead in the eighth inning and earned a no decision.
"Taylor at his own admission has not had a great year", said McCormack. "But what he did today for us was unbelievable, I'm so proud of him."
The Owls will now await word from the selection committee on where they will be slotted in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. FAU sports a top-40 RPI and is a strong candidate for an at-large bid. Florida Atlantic has secured six regional berths in school history, with the last coming in 2005.
"We're put together for a three game series, with our starters and our bullpen", McCormack said. "If you look at what we've done all year, I think we're set up very well for regional, and super regional play."
The Owls will be off both Sunday and Monday, but will host a 2010 season celebration and selection show party on Monday at noon in the Tom Oxley Athletic Center Founder's Lounge. The show will air live on ESPN at 12:30 p.m.