Baseball: FAU edges out UCF 3-2

Andrew Ivins

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It was the pitching, not the hitting that helped Florida Atlantic 20-13 (7-5) take down Central Florida 21-12 (3-6) Tuesday night with a 3-2 win over the in-state rival Knights.

The Owls came into the game riding an offensive explosion from their weekend series, but when the weeknight game was on the line, the team’s pitchers prevailed.

“That’s a good team over there,” head coach John McCormack said pointing at the UCF dugout. “I thought it was a fantastic win. I thought the guys played their hearts out, there was energy and enthusiasm.”

The last time the Owls hosted the in-state school it was 14-3 defeat that many players would prefer to forget. Tuesday, that all changed with the performance of the pitching staff.

The Knights opened things up in the second-inning with a leadoff homerun from Jonathan Griffin to deep center field, giving the road team an early 1-0 edge over starting pitcher Jake Meiers.

An error from shortstop Nick Delguidice an inning later didn’t help the cause, and led to another Knights’ run. However, FAU managed to put the deficit behind them in its half of the inning and got on the board with a run of its own, thanks to an RBI double from Colby Grattan, bringing the score to 2-1.

Meiers then found his footing out on the mound and was able to hold the Knights to their first of three straight scoreless innings against him.

Offensively, FAU took advantage of a UCF error in the fourth-inning, when right fielder Andy Mee brought a base runner in to tie the game at two scores apiece.

The Owls looked poised to take a lead in the fifth-inning, with runners in scoring position and just one out, but a costly strikeout from Mike Spano and a groundout from Sean Bukovich ended the scoring opportunity.

UCF had a chance to grab a lead of their own, after Meiers tallied two walks in the sixth, but a clutch double play by the Owl’s infield salvaged the inning and the score remained tied heading into the final innings of play.

“The first two innings were ok, then the 3-4-5 were pretty good, and the sixth I went out there-and I said, ‘How do you feel?’ and one of the things I measure pitchers by is their eyes. They [Meiers’ eyes] never wavered,” McCormack said.

Pitcher Glen Troyanowski came in to relieve Meiers in the top of the seventh-inning, and after hitting a batter with a pitch, the right-hander notched a strike out to get the Owl’s offense back out on the field.

FAU’s hitters took advantage of the opportunity by loading the bases, and Bukovich hit a sacrifice-fly to the warning track allowing Alex Hudak to tag up and give the team its first lead of the game at 3-2.

“I knew I had to get at least one run in and do something to help the team out, and I got just enough of that last pitch to get it far enough to bring Hudak in,” Buckovich said.

With just a one run lead and only six outs needed to secure a victory, McCormack looked to two different pitchers to close out the game. Mee pitched the eight-inning, while Hugh Adams recorded the final three outs to end the contest.

“He [Adams] has been great. In his freshmen year he closed a little bit, and in Andy’s [Mee] absence he’s been closing,” McCormack said.

Adams was awarded his fourth save of the year, and in the process helped secure Troyanowski’s first win of the season. Meiers went six innings in all, giving up two-runs on 5 hits while striking out 3 batters.

The two former Atlantic Sun Conference rivals will square off again next week at UCF.

FAU will play host to the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks this weekend for a three game series beginning on Friday, April 15th.