South Alabama rallied late, but the Owls were able to hang on en route to their second win of the 2010 Sun Belt Tournament tonight 10-9 over the Jaguars.
The Owls held a six run lead in the eighth, and went through four relievers in the last three innings before finally securing the win.
“I certainly didn’t see that coming”, said Coach John McCormack. “Sometimes when you bring in relievers, they don’t know how to react.”
The Jaguars (32-26, 17-14) have now lost seven of their last eight contests and face an elimination game tomorrow.
The teams traded lead off homers to start the game, but the Jaguars came out of the first inning with a 2-1 advantage as an error by Raymond Church allowed Jake Overstreet to cross the plate from second base.
USA starter Lance Baxter rolled along early recording six strikeouts through 2 2/3 innings, but suddenly became wild walking Andy Mee and Mike Albaladejo in succession.
The Owls immediately capitalized with three runs as Dan Scheffler's double off the wall in center scored Mee and Albaladejo, and Eddie Cassidy’s single then brought Scheffler home to complete the stint.
Baxter continued to struggle in the fourth when Florida Atlantic (35-20, 23-9) tallied four more runs to lead 8-2, and chased him from the mound in favor of Jake Leblanc.
A triple by Mee, who went 2-for-3 with two RBI and two walks to lead FAU, scored Church in the sixth.
The Jaguars reduced the deficit to 9-4 in the bottom of the inning when Mike Gipson surrendered a two run shot to Tyler Hook.
The Owls picked up their final run in the seventh after Sean Bukovich’s double scored Church.
FAU shuffled through the bull pen for the last three frames tapping Lou Morey, Jason Boyer, Taylor Everist, and Ryan Bernal. However, not without some drama.
Morey started the seventh for Gipson (8-1), who picked up the win in six innings of work with three earned runs, four walks, and six strikeouts.
He would be followed in the eighth by Boyer, who exited quickly after loading the bases with no outs.
Everist was able to clean up the mess, enticing three grounders, but not before USA plated two to make it a 10-6 ball game.
In the ninth, Bernal struggled with control walking one and hitting two. And that gave life to the Jaguars, who rallied for three runs until a pop up to third was caught by Bukovich for the final out.
“Obviously it didn’t go how I expected it to, definitely an off night, and glad its over”, Bernal said. “I was relieved when he caught it.”
FAU returns to action Friday at 5:00 p.m. to take on the winner of the FIU vs. USA elimination game. R.J. Alvarez (3-1, 4.05 ERA) will take to the hill for Florida Atlantic.
The Owls are guaranteed an appearance on Saturday despite tomorrow's outcome.
FAU Audio Vault Post Game