|BOCA RATON, Fla. – On Sunday, with a walkoff extra-inning win to start and complete game to seal it, the Florida Atlantic University baseball team swept the doubleheader against FIU for the series victory. This marked the second consecutive weekend that the Owls (24-20, 13-11 Conference USA) won three of four games against the Panthers (17-27, 8-16 C-USA).|
The day began with a 58-minute first inning, with the two teams combining for 10 runs. But relievers on each side settled things down and pushed the game into extras. In the ninth, the first two Owls reached, and eventually a sacrifice fly won it. The finale saw a full-game pitcher’s duel, with FAU winning it on Javi Rivera’s CG.
Head Coach John McCormack:
“Exhausting, exhilarating day of baseball. To go down four in the first, of the first game, and then score six, and then seesaw back and forth and win it in the ninth was amazing. And then to go down 1-0 in the second game and then scratch and claw and to win that was really, really good.
“Guys played great, pitching held up, we made all the plays in the field. Can’t say enough about Steven Loden’s series, he keeps getting big hits for us and making all the plays. Really impressive. And Javi (Rivera) was fantastic in game two, and we needed that.”
FIU came out of the gates scoring four runs, but FAU responded with six of their own, with each team bring their entire lineup to the plate (nine for the Panthers, 11 for the Owls). The big knock for FAU was Steven Loden’s two-run single, while three Owl runs scored on bases-loaded walks, and another on a passed ball.
The Turning Point
The Owls added a Mitchell Hartigan RBI single in the second, but FIU tied it with three in the third. After a run in each half of the fourth, relievers Sam Drumheller and Jan Figueroa really battened down the hatches. Drumheller allowed just a run in 4 2/3, and Figueroa was scoreless in his first five.
It was all zeroes, on both sides, from the fifth through eighth innings. From FAU’s perspective, the big play came defensively, as the Panthers loaded the bases with one out in the seventh. But a 5-2-3 double play, B.J. Murray to Caleb Pendleton for an out at home, and then Pendleton to Nolan Schanuel to complete the twin killing, squelched that rally. Dante Visconti came on and picked up where Drumheller left off, with two scoreless, including leaving the bases loaded in the top of the ninth.
Then in the bottom half, Hartigan led off with a double, and Loden singled him to third. After a fielder’s choice cut down the first potential winning run, Jackson Wenstrom hit a deep enough flyball to center to score Loden for the walkoff win.
Drumheller’s 4 2/3 innings saw him give up just two hits and a run, with two strikeouts
Visconti (3-2) earned the win with his two shutout frames
Hartigan reached five times, going 3-for-3 with two walks. He scored once and knocked in two
Loden and Schanuel each had two-hit games. Loden was 2-for-4, plus a walk, with two runs scored and two RBI; Schanuel went 2-for-3, also drew a walk and was hit by a pitch, and scored three times. He added two stolen bases as well
Besides 10 hits, FAU hitters drew nine walks and one HBP
FIU took an early 1-0 lead with a home run from the second batter of the game. A double followed, but then Rivera found his rhythm, retiring 11 of the next 13 batters, and giving up just one hit in the middle five frames.
The Turning Point
FAU tied it on a bases-loaded walk in the third, scoring Jackson Wenstrom after his leadoff double. He then plated the go-ahead run the next frame with an RBI single, and scored on an error to make it a 3-1 lead.
A walk in the fifth and hit batter in the sixth were of no consequence against Rivera, but the seventh began with two singles. A foul-out bunt was out number one, Rivera’s eighth strikeout number two, and a groundout ended it, for his second CG of the season.
Rivera (5-0) scattered five hits and a walk in his 119-pitch effortHe struck out eight, matching a season high, and didn’t allow a runner to reach third after the first (and the seventh was the only inning that two Panthers were on base at the same time against him)
Wenstrom was 2-for-3 and, as stated, had a hand in all three Owl runsThe other three FAU hits were by Loden, Murray and Shane Magrann
FAU heads to the Bluegrass State to take on WKU next weekend. The final home series of the season is May 14-16, hosting Southern Miss. Get tickets by calling 1-866-FAU-OWLS or by logging on to FAU’s baseball tickets website.