Baseball: Owls beat Panthers by mercy rule 13-3

Mark Gibson

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FAU (13-8, 2-1) came out on top of its Sun Belt Conference weekend series against Florida International University (13-8, 1-2) as it won game 3 13-3 on Sunday, March 20, in Boca Raton.

The Owls managed to end the game an inning early by having a 10-run lead over the Panthers in accordance with the Sun Belt Conference’s 10-run mercy rule.

“They were in the game the whole time,” said head coach John McCormack. “The guys have really seemed to turn a corner. We’ve [managed to] cut down on any kind of mistakes, not just physical ones but mental ones.”

Once again FIU was the first to score as it took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. But FAU came back to answer with five runs on the bottom of the third. It started with an RBI single by left fielder Alex Hudak, followed by back-to-back home runs: a three-run homer by first baseman Dan Scheffler and a solo shot by designated hitter Mark Nelson.

With the Owls leading 5-1, they continued to build on their lead as they scored in four consecutive innings. Catcher Mike Albaladejo drove in an RBI single in the bottom of the fourth, followed by a big four-run inning in the bottom of the fifth. Center fielder Colby Gratton brought a run in on a sacrifice fly to right field, followed by an RBI single from Church, and Albaladejo. On the scoring play by Albaladejo, a missed ground ball by FIU left fielder Henry Jabari allowed Church to cross the plate to give the Owls a 10-1 lead.

On the mound for FAU was starting pitcher R.J. Alvarez (2-1) who pitched 6.2 innings while allowing three runs and four walks, with five strikeouts.

In the bottom of the sixth, third baseman Sean Bukovitch scored an RBI single to give the Owls a 10-run lead, but the 10-run rule was negated as the Panthers scored two runs of their own in the top of the seventh with bases loaded. FAU pitcher Ahmed Garcia came in to relieve Alvarez to get the Owls out of the bases-loaded jam.

“I was excited but it was more exciting to get the game over with,” said Church.

In the bottom of the eighth, Church scored a walk-off two-run RBI to end the game an inning early and seal a 13-3 victory for FAU.

FAU will play another Sun Belt Conference series as it takes on Middle Tennessee State University on Friday, March 25, at 6:30 p.m. in Boca Raton.