For the past two weekends, Florida Atlantic left-hander Jake Miednik proved to be kryptonite to the Old Dominion batting order.
After shutting out the Owls for eight innings in the regular-season finale, Miednik tossed 7 1/3 innings of one-hit, shutout baseball Friday afternoon as third-seeded FAU stayed alive in the Conference USA Championship with a 6-2 victory over the second-seeded Monarchs.
“That’s two weeks in a row he’s thrown really good,” ODU coach Chris Finwood said. “We just couldn’t figure Miednik (photo) out. He threw more fastballs (Friday), and the wind was blowing in (at MGM Park), so it was going to be a tougher day.”
Tougher than tough.
After ODU right fielder Kyle Battle shot a single up the middle on the third pitch of the game, Miednik retired the next 18 Monarchs. No hits. No walks. No hit batsmen. Nothing, until first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino led off the seventh inning with a clean single to right field.
“In a tournament like this, you need that kind of outing,” FAU coach Jon McCormack said. “At this point, it’s all hands on deck. For him to give us 7.1 innings, it was fantastic."
“We got enough hits and we did what we were supposed to do.”
The win sends FAU (35-20-1) into Saturday’s 10 a.m. semifinal against sixth-seeded Rice (29-29). FAU would have to beat Rice twice to advance to Sunday’s 2 p.m. championship game.
“In this thing, you have to keep loose and let them enjoy themselves,” McCormack said. “They might be a little goofy, but they are smart enough to know it is: win or go home. It’s win or get on the bus.
“We might as well keep winning because if we win this thing maybe I can talk our AD into flying us home.”
After opening the tournament with a victory, the Monarchs (37-21) saw their tournament come to an end after back-to-back losses Thursday and Friday.
“We didn’t play real well (Friday), but we’ve played well all year,” Finwood said.
FAU took a 2-0 off ODU starter Michael Blanchard (1-3) in the third inning on run-scoring singles by second baseman Steven Kerr and right fielder David Miranda.
Kerr drove in another run in the fifth inning for a 3-0 lead, and FAU tacked on two more in sixth inning on a wild pitch and a hit batsman with the bases loaded.
Miednik worked through a two-on, no outs, situation in the seventh inning, but got in trouble again in the eighth inning.
Left fielder Turner Bishop doubled and catcher Devon Adams walked, then each moved up a base nubber in front of the plate. Battle hit a sinking liner into left field for a single that scored Bishop and finished MIednik’s day, and Adams scored when FAU left fielder Eric Rivera bobbled and then dropped Pasquantino’s fly ball.
But Weston Clemente struck out ODU three-hole hitter Jared Young for the second out before giving way to Drew Peden, who before throwing his first pitch, whirled and picked Battle off second base to end the inning.
Miednik finished by allowing two runs on four hits, walking on and striking out five.
Peden struck out two batters in a 1-2-3 ninth inning to earn his second save on the season.