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Strong 6th inning propels FAU in crucial midweek win
Since the start of the season head coach John McCormack has stressed the importance of midweek games.
Tuesday night, the Owls (5-3) rallied for a 9-8 victory over No. 23 Florida Gulf Coast, to give the team a resume defying win.
“A win’s a win, especially on Tuesday night when anything can happen,” McCormack said. “When teams find themselves in theses situations they want to win, and we won.”
Having blown a late lead against Miami last week, FAU found themselves in a similar position against FGCU.
The Owls had took an early advantage on a two RBI single from catcher Mike Spano in the first inning, but quickly watched the edge on the scoreboard evaporate in the fourth inning when the Eagles tallied a four run frame to take a 5-2 lead.
Kevin Alexander made his first appearance of the season in relief of starter Brandon Rhodes, and gave up three runs on three hits.
The Owls looked keen for another disappointing loss, but the team would prevail.
With two-outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, the squad would string together four straight hits, which resulted in five runs. Sean Murrell doubled down the left field line to score two runners, as Nathan Pittman (picture above) singled to bring Murrell across the plate.
Pittman would then steal second, before Levi Meyer singled to add a run and give FAU a 7-5 lead.
“It seems like jumping out to an early lead and then giving it right back up has been our problem, but we finally were able to make something happen after that,” Pittman said.
The Owls would add two insurance runs in the seventh and eight innings to extend their advantage, which would prove to be crucial.
Michael Sylverstri tossed a scoreless eighth inning while Bo Logan stepped on the mound to close out the game. The senior managed to load the bases with no outs, creating a situation in which McCormack called upon closer Hugh Adams.
Adams would hit the first batter he faced to score a run and give up a sacrifice-fly that would in turn cut the Owl’s lead to just two. The Eagles tacked on another run, before Adams could record the final two outs to preserve a 9-8 win.
“After what happened last Wednesday and to see that tonight, Hugh made a huge pitch,” McCormack said. “It would have been nice to go one-two-three in the ninth, but Hugh came in and did what he was suppose to do.”
Rhodes (0-0) pitched four and a third innings, giving up just one run on three hits. Alexander (1-0) was awarded the win, despite his poor showing in the third frame, as Adams got the save.
Meyer finished the game 2-for-3 with two RBIs, while Pittman proved to be the spark for the offense. The leadoff man went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored to go along with a pair of stolen bases.
“This is definitely huge, we needed this win” Pittman said. “They where ranked in the top-25 and they where coming off the high horse of sweeping Florida, so there was no better time to jump on them and get a win than tonight."
- In the record books: Adams picked up his third save in his fourth opportunity of the season, making him FAU’s all-time career leader in saves. The senior has 17 saves, with that total projected to grow throughout the course of the season.
- Billy Endris pinch-hit in the bottom of the eight inning, marking his first career appearance for the Owls. The freshman outfielder reached base on a walk, then stole third, before scoring on a sacrifice-fly from Meyer.
- The win marked just the third all-time against FGCU, who was coming off a sweep of Florida. The two instate schools have played a total of 10 times, but the Owls trail in the series 7-3. The teams will meet later again this season in Fort Meyers.
- FAU will travel to Myrtle Beach, S.C. this weekend for the Caravelle Resort Tournament. The schedule won’t lighten up, as the Owls are set to face Costal Carolina on Friday before taking on West Virginia and NC State.