Trailing late, Florida Atlantic (30-17, 18-8) rallied and looked to be heading to extra innings on Saturday night. But a balk with two out in the bottom of the ninth allowed South Alabama to pull out a 6-5 win and force a series deciding game three on Sunday.
The Owls assumed first place in the standings after securing game one in decisive fashion on Friday, but are now just percentage points behind once again.
FAU took a 1-0 lead in the first when Andy Mee’s sacrifice fly scored Raymond Church.
After giving up a run in the bottom of the inning, FAU starter Mike Gipson settled in well until the fourth when South Alabama (29-19, 16-7) notched three more on three hits, including Ray Tanner’s homer to right field, to move ahead 4-1.
David Cassidy later answered with a solo shot in the 6th for the Owls.
Jaguars’ starter Lance Baxter was over 130 pitches in the eighth, and that opened the door for the FAU’s comeback attempt.
Trailing 4-2 in the top of the eighth, Mee singled and was immediately driven home by Dan Scheffler’s double off the wall.
A wild pitch moved Scheffler to third just prior to Cassidy drawing a walk.
With no outs and runners on the corners, FAU tied things up on Nick DelGuidice’s sacrifice fly bringing in Scheffler.
The Owls continued their rally when Sean Bukovich knocked one deep for his 12th RBI on the season to bring in Nathan Pittman, who had come in to pinch run for Cassidy, and took a 5-4 lead.
USA wasted no time knotting matters up again with a lead off homerun in the bottom half of the inning. Gipson, who appeared tired, was left in and escaped further damage while retiring the side.
A fielding error allowed Mee to reach in the ninth for the Owls, but he was left on base.
Ryan Bernal took the mound for FAU in the ninth and managed to sandwich two strikeouts between hits by USA. But, after an intentional walk loaded the bases, balked home the winning run.
DelGuidice went 2-for-3 with one RBI to lead the Owls.
The teams will face off again tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. in a game three rubber match.