Florida Atlantic received a quality pitching performance from Ryan Garton and timely hitting from Colby Gratton to cruise past Middle Tennessee 9-1 on Friday night.
“Ryan was outstanding tonight,” said head coach John McCormack. “He tweaked his pregame routine and it really paid off for him and us.”
Garton (3-1) pitched brilliantly to earn his third victory of the season. The right-hander lasted eight innings and struck out 10 batters while only giving up nine hits and one walk.
With the score tied at 1-1 in the fourth, the Owls (16-9, 7-3) broke out for four runs off Middle starter Kenneth Roberts to take an early lead. Colby Gratton led off the inning with a double, then two batters later, Nick Delguidice knocked in his 26th run batted in of the season with a clean double to left field.
Later in the inning with the bases loaded, Raymond Church put the Owls ahead 5-1 with a bases-clearing RBI single. An error by left fielder Will Skinner allowed all three runs to score on the play.
Gratton continued his stellar night in the sixth, when he stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and unloaded them with an opposite field triple to break open the game and give FAU an 8-1 lead. The left fielder finished the game 4-for-5 and was a home run shy of the cycle.
“Colby has been working hard in the cage all week,” said McCormack. “He took extra BP on Tuesday and Thursday and it showed tonight.”
The Blue Raiders (16-10, 5-5) scored their only run in the first inning after a lead-off single by Tyler Burnett eventually came around to score on a Justin Guidry RBI single.
Roberts (1-2) lasted only 5.2 innings and struggled with his command. The reigning Sun Belt preseason pitcher of the year allowed eight runs on nine hits with three walks and five strikeouts.
The Owls will return to action tomorrow for game two of the series at 4:00 p.m. Mike Gipson (5-0, 2.09) will be on the mound for FAU and will be opposed by MTSU's Chad Edwards (3-1, 4.45).