Baseball: Owls win 7-1 on key grand slam

Andrew Ivins

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It hadn’t happened to Florida Atlantic baseball in over a year, but Sunday afternoon it lead to a key victory.

With the regular season winding down and the Owls chasing conference leader Troy, the men in white and blue uniforms had an opportunity to close out a weekend series against the nationally ranked Trojans and make a push before the final Sun Belt Conference standings.

Nick Delguidice found himself at the plate in the bottom of fifth inning with the bases loaded and a 2-1 lead, but knowing the implications of the contest and only holding a single-run advantage, the situation called for a big play from the senior.

Surrendering two quick strikes, Delguidice regrouped and then drove a ball deep to right center field and watched the wind carry it over the wall for a grand-slam homerun.

“It was pretty scary going up to that pitch,” Delguidice said of the at-bat. “I swung at a pitch that was in the dirt and should have been ball one, and the second pitch he [the pitcher] froze me right down the middle. Then he threw the same pitch and I got the barrel on it.”

The four-run homerun was the team’s first since April 25th of last season, in which Delguidice had hit one on the road against Louisiana-Monroe.

Along with the grouping of runs it produced, the long ball also allowed everyone in the home team’s dugout to take a deep breath and relax.

“Oh without a doubt,” head coach John McCormack said when asked if the hit had relieved some pressure. “It took a huge amount of pressure off us.”

Having dropped the opening game of the series and then rebounding to win the second contest, McCormack and his players were keen on winning the final game of the series from the start of the afternoon.

Starting pitcher R.J. Alvarez took a while to find his control, giving up a run and a few hits early in the second inning, but FAU’s offense was able to respond and tie the game at 1-1 heading into the third.

Alvarez, who picked up his sixth win of the season, held a dangerous Troy lineup to just two hits through the next three innings, before Delguidice and his bat gave the squad a big 6-1 lead.

Reliever Ahmed Garcia came in to pitch the sixth inning because of his strengths against left-handed hitters, and was able to keep the road team’s bats quiet until Andy Mee took over in the seventh.

Third basemen Sean Bukovich added to the lead with a solo homerun in the eighth inning, and closer Hugh Adams came in to pitch the ninth inning and secure the win.

The 7-1 victory was the team’s twenty-third win at home this season, marking the most home wins in a season during the McCormack era.

“It was big [the win], we came in originally wanting a sweep but we came up short. Taking two-out-of-three against these guys is huge and now we’re two games back and we got to take it from here,” Delguidice said.

The Owls will travel to Bowling Green, Kentucky this upcoming weekend for a three-game series against Western Kentucky.

Notes: Relief pitcher Ahmed Garcia pitched 1.2 innings after a scoreless four inning outing on Saturday… Troy catcher Todd McRae was perfect on the afternoon, going 4-for-4 in the batter’s box… Left Fielder Alex Hudak recorded his fourth stolen base of the year… The Trojans managed just one extra-base hit… FAU improved to 4-2 on the season against ranked-opponents.