FAU loses 3-2 to conference foe Middle Tennessee State

Cyrus Smith

Left fielder Brendon Sanger tries to out-run a play at first base. The Owls lost to Middle Tennessee 3-2 to start the weekend series. Photo by Michelle Friswell.
Left fielder Brendon Sanger tries to out-run a play at first base. The Owls lost to Middle Tennessee 3-2 to start the weekend series. Photo by Michelle Friswell.

Beginning a three-game series with Middle Tennessee State on Friday night, FAU’s bats were unable to get any timely hits, leaving 10 runners on base and allowing the Sun Belt Conference opponent to escape FAU Baseball Stadium with a 3-2 win.

“We put the ball in play when we needed to and they made some plays,” Owls coach John McCormack said. “Those things happen.”

The Owls (22-12) scored the game’s first run in the first inning after left fielder Brendon Sanger’s RBI fielder’s choice plated center fielder Nathan Pittman.

However, they were unable to add to the lead, as third baseman Ricky Santiago struck out, leaving runners in scoring position.

“We needed a better at-bat from Ricky,” McCormack said of Santiago’s strikeout.

The Owls tacked on another run in the second inning, due to Pittman’s RBI single that scored right fielder Corey Keller. Pittman finished the night two for three from the plate.

After a 30-minute game delay due to lightning, Owls starting pitcher Austin Gomber gave up his first run during the fourth inning on a passed ball strike out. Gomber then surrendered a bloop single to right field, knotting the game at two.

The Blue Raiders scored the go-ahead run in the fifth, and held an advantage for the rest of the contest.

The Owls were able to get the tying run on third during the bottom of the eighth, but second baseman Nicholas Worrall was unable to bring him home, grounding out to close the inning.

Center fielder Nathan Pittman heads to the dugout after scoring a run in the bottom of the first inning. Pittman had one run, two hits, and one RBI in the Friday 3-2 loss against Middle Tennessee. Photo by Michelle Friswell.
Center fielder Nathan Pittman heads to the dugout after scoring a run in the bottom of the first inning. Pittman had one run, two hits, and one RBI in the Friday 3-2 loss against Middle Tennessee. Photo by Michelle Friswell.

FAU then went down in order to end the game.

Gomber went six innings, allowing three runs — two of them unearned — with five hits, four walks, and seven strikeouts. He took the loss, pushing his season record to 4-2.

With the defeat, FAU (8-5 in Sun Belt play) remains tied with Western Kentucky for first place in the conference.

McCormack remains confident regarding his team’s outlook.

“Like I told our guys, ‘Do I think we’re a better team, yes’ but you have to give them credit,” McCormack said. “They pitched really well, they made their pitches when they had to, they played defense when they had to, and they got the one more hit that we didn’t get.”

FAU continues its three-game home series against Middle Tennessee on Saturday, April 13. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.