With Saturday’s final day win over Middle Tennessee, 8-7, the No. 29 Florida Atlantic University baseball team will finish on top of the Conference USA standings as undisputed regular season champions. The Owls’ 22-8 C-USA mark is the most wins earned in league play since 2003 (25-8 A-SUN).
For the third straight game, Middle Tennessee (18-37, 11-19 C-USA) had a multi-run first inning, with back-to-back two-out home runs, and added two more the next frame for a 4-0 lead. But the Owls (37-18, 22-8 C-USA) quickly battled back to tie it in their half of the second, beginning with four straight hits: a Joe Montes double and Mitchell Hartigan single; RBI double by Francisco Urbaez; and run-scoring single by Jacob Pino. Then, Eric Rivera singled in both Urbaez and Pino to knot it up at 4-4.
“Unbelievable. We were behind in the first (inning) every game … and they did what they needed to do", said Head Coach John McCormack.
Four more Owl runs gave them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, and Nick Swan saved his best for last, in his final home game. He threw scoreless relief for five innings, before only allowing a solo shot in the seventh.
Though MT got a two-out home run in the ninth, for the second straight day Zach Schneider shut the door, with a lineout to right sending the Owls out of the dugout for a celebratory dogpile.
"It’s a little bit difficult to play, sometimes, in these types of situations when there’s so much on the line" McCormack said. "But the guys did it. It wasn’t ideal, but it was well worth it.”
The final line for Swan (2-1) was 5 1/3 innings, four hits and a run, no walks, and a career-best eight strikeouts in his 63rd career appearance.
On their Senior Days, Joe Montes and Jacob Pino combined for five hits and four runs. Montes went 3-for-4 with a double; Pino was 2-for-3, and notched his first career RBI.
Also with three hits were Eric Rivera (2RBI) and Francisco Urbaez (2RBI), the latter a triple away from the cycle.
The 2019 Conference USA Championship begins next Wednesday, May 22, at MGM Park in Biloxi, Mississippi. The top-seeded Owls will play in Game 3 on the first day, against No. 8 seed UTSA, starting at 5:00 PM. All games prior to the championship will be streamed on ESPN+ and FAU SID Jonathan Fraysure will have the call via YouTube.
2019 FAU Baseball Schedule - FAU Owl's Nest
SERIES THREAD: FAU vs. Middle Tennessee May 16th-18th, 2019 - FAU Owl's Nest
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