Baseball: No. 15 Owls follow Friday loss with two wins over Middle Tennessee

The team opens up Conference USA play 2-1.

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Baseball: No. 15 Owls follow Friday loss with two wins over Middle Tennessee

Photo by Max Jackson

Photo by Max Jackson

Photo by Max Jackson

Photo by Max Jackson

Brendan Feeney, Sports Editor

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Florida Atlantic baseball followed a loss to open conference play with two straight victories over the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders.

Middle Tennessee (11-9, 1-2 Conference USA) scored eight runs in the first three innings against senior pitcher Brandon Rhodes in Friday’s game. The No. 15 Owls (15-3, 2-1 C-USA) out hit MTSU but fell 8-6.

The Blue Raiders’ first inning success continued in Saturday’s game.

Sophomore pitcher Marc Stewart allowed two runs in that inning, but then shutout the MTSU offense in the four following innings. His offense would later explode for a five-run fifth inning, which proved to be the difference in the win.

The MTSU offense couldn’t change its fortunes when Stewart left the game as freshman pitcher Nick Swan and junior pitcher Colyn O’Connell closed the game with four combined shutout innings.

Senior right fielder Brett Lashley paved the way for the Owls’ offense on Sunday during a 12-run performance for the team. He recorded three RBIs and scored three runs in the game.

Junior second baseman Stephen Kerr went 7-for-13 over the weekend, accounting for seven of his team’s runs.

Hitter of the Weekend: Brett Lashley: The senior right fielder reached base nine times in 15 at bats, recording six hits, six runs and six RBIs.

Pitcher of the Weekend: Owls’ Bullpen: The bullpen allowed a total of one unearned run in 10 innings. The following bullpen pitchers received action this week:

Seniors Devon Carr and Robbie Coursel, juniors Colyn O’Connell and Cameron Ragsdale, sophomores Alex House and Mark Nowatnick and freshman Nick Swan.

“Goat” of the Weekend: Esteban Puerta: The senior first baseman went 1-for-15 in three games. He added one run and RBI in Sunday’s finale.

The Owls will travel to Gainesville to take on the consensus No. 1 ranked Florida Gators on Tuesday, March 22, at 7 p.m.

Here’s a recap of each game:

Game One: FAU 6, MTSU 8

The Blue Raiders’ offense attacked Rhodes early. It scored all of its eight runs in the first three innings, including a five-run first which saw the first four batters score on a grand slam by junior third baseman Aaron Aucker.

FAU opened up the offense before Middle Tennessee, as three straight singles by Kerr, junior shortstop CJ Chatham and senior center fielder Billy Endris loaded the bases with no outs. Senior left fielder Christian Dicks hit a sacrifice fly to advance each runner one base and capture a 1-0 lead.

With one out and two runners in scoring position, the Owls had what turned out to be their best opportunity to jump out to a big lead. They were unable to capitalize though, as Puerta struck out before Labsan grounded out to close the top half of the inning.

The Owls tried to answer back in the second inning. Lashley singled in junior third baseman Austin Langham then freshman catcher Tyler Frank scored on a double play to make the score 5-3.

Another MTSU home run in its half of the second inning took those two runs back, as junior center fielder Brad Jarreau hit a two-run shot over the left field fence.

FAU scored two in the fourth inning and one in the sixth but left six runners on base in the final five innings, including three runners stranded in scoring position.

Game Two: FAU 7, MTSU 2

The Owls entered the fifth inning trailing by two runs, both of which were scored in the first inning. MTSU’s lead would end there though as FAU scored five runs in the inning.

Langham, sophomore catcher Gunnar Lambert and sophomore center fielder Jose Bonilla Traverso loaded the bases with a single, two walks and no outs for Kerr. Kerr doubled down the right field line to tie the game at two.

A Lashley single advanced Kerr to third and scored Traverson to capture the Owls’ first lead of the game. That would be the last hit of the inning, but both Kerr and Lashley would find their way home after an RBI groundout and sacrifice fly.

After FAU scored another run in the sixth inning, Chatham doubled in Lashley for the Owls’ final run of the game in the ninth inning.

Game Three: FAU 12, MTSU 1

The Owls left no doubt that they were the superior team in Sunday’s rubber match, as they blew out MTSU 12-1.

Kerr and Lashley started the scoring in the first inning as both scored on an error which resonated from a Puerta fielder’s choice.

An RBI single by Lashley and Chatham sandwiched an error as the Owls stretched their lead to five after two innings.

After four scoreless innings, the Owls plated two runs in the seventh and three in the ninth, netting their first game with at least 10 runs since March 6 against Georgetown.

Labsan started the game on the mound and threw five innings, allowing only one run.

All nine FAU starters recorded at least one run or RBI, led by Lashley who had three of each.

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.