Owls hold off Red Wolves, advance to Sun Belt Tournament Championship Game

Zack Kelberman

Second baseman Brendon Sanger had three runs and three hits during Saturday's Sun Belt Conference game against Arkansas State. FAU won 5-4 to secure their spot in Sunday's Sun Belt Conference Championship game. Photo by Michelle Friswell
Second baseman Brendon Sanger had three runs and three hits during Saturday’s Sun Belt Conference game against Arkansas State. FAU won 5-4 to secure their spot in Sunday’s Sun Belt Conference Championship game. Photo by Michelle Friswell

The Owls are one step closer to a tournament title.

Despite a late rally, No. 4 seed FAU held on to defeat No. 8 seed Arkansas State, 5-4, on Saturday in their latest Sun Belt Conference Tournament tilt.

With the victory, the Owls (38-20) became the first team to cement its spot in Sunday’s Championship Game, which will be televised live on CSS and ESPN3.com

But it wasn’t without dramatics.

Holding a 5-2 lead entering the ninth inning, the Red Wolves roughed up FAU closer Hugh Adams for two runs on four hits, cutting the deficit to within a run.

Adams, however, would recover, recording his 17th save of the season, and 30th of his career.

The Owls’ 10th straight win –– their longest such streak since 2004 –– was aided by their active bats.

FAU’s designated hitter Brendon Sanger continued his solid tournament play, finishing 3-for-4 from the plate, including a solo home run as part of a three-run fourth inning. Sanger now has seven hits over his last three contests.

The other Owls runs in the fourth came via a Red Wolves error (one of three on the afternoon) and RBI single by shortstop Mitch Morales, scoring outfielder Corey Keller.

Re-taking a 4-2 lead, FAU would tack on an insurance run in the fifth inning, as Sanger tripled and was brought home by a Keller double in the following at-bat.

In all, the Owls recorded 10 hits, with Sanger and Keller combining for half.

Senior righty Jake Meiers received the win for FAU, going five innings, allowing eight hits, two earned runs, and striking out four batters.

During the regular season, the Owls took two of three games from Arkansas State in the teams’ lone series of the year.

FAU will play Louisiana-Lafayette in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament Championship game on Sunday, May 26. First pitch is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. EST from M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field in Lafayette, La.