Baseball: FAU wins 4-3 in opening game of Sun Belt Conference Tournament against Western Kentucky

Rolando Rosa

For FAU, it was the same opening game opponent as last year’s Sun Belt tournament, but this time with a different result.

A failed pickoff to first base by Western Kentucky in the bottom of the ninth inning drove in left fielder Nathan Pittman with the game-winning run, as FAU defeated Western Kentucky 4-3 in the opening game of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament at Bowling Green Ballpark in Kentucky.

“I’ve never seen a game end like that,” FAU head baseball coach John McCormack said to FAUSports.com  “I kept urging Pittman to keep coming (toward home plate) and I originally thought (the umpires) were going to rule it a balk.  Overall, it worked out well for us.”

With the game tied at three, Owls left fielder Nathan Pittman walked to start off the bottom of the ninth inning. Owls second baseman Mike Albaladejo then singled to center field, advancing Pittman to second. Finally, with Owls shortstop Mitch Morales at-bat, Western Kentucky pitcher Taylor Haydel attempted to pick off Albaladejo but was unsuccessful and Pittman scored from second.

FAU pitcher Ryan Garton gave up two runs in the first inning, however did not allow another until the seventh. The Owls took the lead in the bottom of the third inning with three runs. Owls third baseman Kyle Newton doubled to right center, scoring both Pittman and Albaladejo. Then, first baseman Mark Nelson singled up the middle, bringing in Newton and giving the Owls a 3-2 lead.

In the top of the seventh with one out and the bases loaded, Western Kentucky shortstop Scott Wilcox flied out to center field off Garton, driving home the tying run before the Owls sealed it in the ninth.

“It was a typical FAU-Western Kentucky Sun Belt Tournament game,” McCormack said.  “A win like this can get us going for the rest of the tournament.  It was not a typical No. 8 versus No. 1 matchup.  It was a tough game.”

Garton allowed three runs and five hits in seven innings.

Albaladejo went 4 for 5 with a run. Nelson was 2 for 4 with an RBI. Pittman was 1 for 3 with two runs.

FAU plays the second game of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament  from Bowling Green Ballpark in Kentucky on Thursday May 24 at 4:00 p.m. against Louisiana-Monroe.