Baseball: Owls open up season away from home with four straight wins

Team outscores opponents 29-13 over the weekend


Max Jackson

Senior outfielder Christian Dicks squares to bunt during the Owls’ 5-4 win over Miami on Feb. 18, 2015. Max Jackson | Staff Photographer

Brendan Feeney, Sports Editor

Florida Atlantic baseball notched four straight wins in Starkville, Mississippi to open up its season 4-0.

With head coach John McCormack unable to make the trip because of doctor’s recommendations stemming from his cancer treatments, the Owls scored 29 runs in the four games against host and No. 11 ranked Mississippi State and South Dakota State — including two games which saw at least ten runners cross home plate.

Redshirt junior Esteban Puerta swung the Owls’ hottest bat over the weekend, hitting 10-for-16 and recording eight RBIs and three runs. Senior Billy Endris opened up his season well too, recording seven hits, six RBIs and five runs in the four games.

The Owls’ starting pitchers allowed their offense to gain early leads and limited the bats of the Bulldogs and Jackrabbits. Sophomore Marc Stewart threw six shutout innings in his first start with FAU.

Senior Brandon Rhodes and redshirt sophomore David McKay each recorded their first win of the season, allowing a combined three runs over 11 innings of work.

Here’s a recap of each game:

Game One: FAU 11, SDS 5

After recording a two-out walk in the second inning, junior Sean Lasban reached third base thanks to a failed pickoff play.

Freshman Tyler Frank then singled, knocking in Lasban and recording the Owls’ first run of the season. The hit was also Frank’s first collegiate hit and RBI.

The score remained 1-0 in favor of the Owls until the top of the fifth inning. Down two outs in the inning once again, junior Stephen Kerr, Endris, junior CJ Chatham and senior Christian Dicks strung together four consecutive singles before Puerta doubled to extend FAU’s lead to five.

SDS senior Cody Sharrow homered in the bottom half of the fifth inning to score his team’s first run on FAU. The Owls answered right back, scoring a run via a bases-loaded walk in their next at-bat.

The Jackrabbits followed — scoring their second run of the game, closing the score to 5-2 in the Owls’ favor. Puerta added onto that lead with the Owls’ first homerun of the season in the top of the seventh inning, scoring Dicks on the play.

Lasban scored the Owls’ third run of the inning after another bases-loaded walk.

The team split six runs over the last three innings, allowing FAU to clinch a win in its season opener.

McKay recorded the wins for the Owls. He collected six strikeouts and allowed only one run over five innings of work.

Game Two: FAU 10, Miss St. 6

The Owls jumped on the country’s 11th ranked team early, netting two first inning runs before the Bulldogs had a chance to hit. Endris singled and scored later on a balk, while Chatham also reached base via a single and scored after Puerta hit a single of his own.

Owls’ ace Rhodes was handed the ball for this matchup. Though he allowed 10 hits and only recorded one strikeout over six innings of work, he only allowed two runs.

Rhodes was relieved after his offense exploded for an eight-run seventh inning. Sophomore Gunnar Lambert was the star of the half-inning, recording a walk, a double two RBIs and two runs scored.

Endris, Chatham, Puerta, Lasban and Lashley all recorded an RBI and a run. Kerr scored after walking and junior Austin Langham knocked-in the eighth and final run of the inning with a single to left-center field.

The Bulldogs closed on the Owls’ 10-2 lead by scoring three runs off sophomore Alex House and one off junior Cameron Ragsdale, but were unable to complete the comeback.

Game Three: FAU 4, Miss St. 0

The second matchup in as many days between the Bulldogs and Owls was the opposite of the first, after Friday’s matchup saw 16 runners score.

Stewart stifled the Bulldog offense, shutting them out over six innings of work. In the Hillsborough Community College transfer’s first outing for the Owls, he allowed two hits and struck out three batters.

Redshirt senior Devon Carr and Ragsdale pitched the final three frames for the Owls, preserving the shutout started by Stewart.

FAU scored its first run of the game in the third inning, after Endris singled in Lambert, who led off the inning with a double.

The Owls tacked on their final three runs in the fifth inning, again starting with two outs and the bases empty.

Kerr singled and scored on an Endris double. A Chatham single then knocked in Endris and Chatham scored three batters later via a bases-loaded walk.

Game Four: SDS 2, FAU 4

After the Jackrabbits jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, the Owls forced them into two unearned runs and took a 2-1 lead.

With the score still 2-1 in the fifth inning, Kerr hit his first homerun of the season. Langham also scored on the play.

Though the Owls were able to pull off the victory, they only recorded three hits in the game.

Lasban, freshman Nick Swan and sophomore Mark Nowatnick pitched two, four and three innings respectively. They allowed a total of 15 baserunners over nine innings but limited the damage and only allowed two to score.

The Owls will play their home opener next weekend when they host Long Island University Brooklyn for a three-game weekend series, which begins Friday, Feb. 26, at 6:30 p.m.

Brendan Feeney is the sports editor of the University Press. To contact him regarding this or other stories, he can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter.