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Strawn commanding in “gut check” victory for Owls
In only his fourth career appearance Jeremy Strawn gave Florida Atlantic just what they needed.
The redshirt-junior tossed eight scoreless innings Sunday afternoon, as the Owls beat Alabama 5-3 to salvage a win in the weekend series and snap a three-game losing streak.
“It’s exactly what we needed,” head coach John McCormack said. “Strawn stepped up and pitched huge. I thought today was a big time gut check for us, and we passed.”
After dropping back-to-back games to Alabama, FAU needed a solid performance from Strawn (pictured above) to redeem themselves in the series, and that’s precisely what he delivered.
The redshirt-junior, who missed a majority of last season with a back injury, attacked the plate all afternoon and tallied six strikeouts to just four hits. He retired the leadoff batter in all but one inning and didn’t allow an opponent to reach second base until the eight frame.
“We really needed this, coming off of three losses in a row. We have been working on forcing contact and getting quick outs in order to go deeper into games, and that’s pretty much what I sat on,” Strawn said.
The effort was good enough to given Strawn (1-0) his first career win, which came in only his fourth outing on the mound for the Owls.
Strawn used five pitches to retire the side in the bottom of the first inning, which set the pace for the rest of the contest. He was efficient and effective against the Crimson Tide’s lineup, and was able to keep his pitch count low.
FAU took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when Mark Nelson slapped an RBI single to left field to score Nathan Pittman.
The Owls would extend their lead in the fourth inning, when freshman designated hitter Brendon Sanger stood in the box for the biggest bat of his young career. With the basses loaded, Sanger would drive in two runs to make it 3-0 with a two-out single down the right field line.
“Sometimes you need a little spark off the bench, and he had been swinging the bat well in batting practice,” McCormack said.
The hit was the first of Sanger’s career and came courtesy of just his second plate appearance of the season.
Closer Hugh Adams relived Strawn in the ninth inning and picked up his second save of the year. The appearance was a stout one for Adams, who had blown a save in his last outing.
FAU moved to 4-3 on the season, but more importantly were able to win a contest with their backs against the wall.
“This is an unbelievable day for our guys in terms of being able to step up and play a flawless game, get the timely hit, and make the pitches when we needed to. I thought this was a big time victory for our guys,” McCormack said.
- Last year FAU was able to sweep Alabama in Tuscaloosa to open the season, but this time around the Crimson Tide took the series by a 2-1 margin. The Owls where competitive in all three games, but it appears Alabama has improved as a ball club. “They’re a good team,” McCormack said. “Last year what hurt them in the first two games of the series was defense - and they played flawless defense this weekend. They didn’t help us at all this weekend and they pitched better than last year.”
- Fans may be asking why McCormack went to the bullpen in the ninth inning, instead of allowing Strawn an opportunity to pitch a complete game, but there is a reason behind the decision. “That’s a save situation, that’s what Huge (Adams) is here for. Jeremy did his job plus more. I was thinking with the bullpen today we could get four or five innings out of him, but he went eight.” The duo combined for a four-hit shutout.
- Outfielder Corey Keller picked up his first hit since breaking his nose on Friday night when he was hit by a pitch. It’s apparent that Keller is able to play with the injury and should be in the Owls lineup for the remainder of the season.
- The schedule won’t get any easier for FAU as they will host Florida Gulf Coast on Tuesday night. The Eagles shockingly swept #13 Florida this weekend and are 5-1 this season. “If you want to be good, you have to play good people, McCormack said. First pitch is schedule for 6:30 p.m under the lights.