Baseball: Owls can’t hold onto late lead against MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals

FAU pitchers limit Cardinals to one run and three hits over the first seven innings

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Senior right fielder Brett Lashley slides into third base during the Owls' 13-6 exhibition loss to the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday. Ryan Lynch | Multimedia Editor

Brendan Feeney, Sports Editor

Florida Atlantic baseball appeared to have a victory in-hand in Wednesday’s exhibition game against Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals before an eighth inning implosion cost them the win.

The Owls (7-0) limited the Cardinals to one run off three hits throughout the game’s first seven innings and held a 6-1 lead going into the eighth inning.

However, the Cardinals went on to score 10 straight runs before the Owls could record a single out in the bottom half of the eighth inning. St. Louis finished the inning with 12 runs via eight hits.

“Expectations were just to play well and enjoy ourselves, which I thought we did,” head coach John McCormack said. “I didn’t expect to see a 12-run eighth, that’s an oddity. But all in all, it was a good day. It stings a little bit, but it’s an exhibition game.”

Two of the eight hits were home runs — one of which was a grand slam by second baseman Jacob Wilson.

“We’d like our two bullpen pitchers to pitch better, but it is what it is,” McCormack said.

Senior pitcher Devon Carr came out of the bullpen and started the eighth inning for the Owls. He gave up two walks and three hits without recording an out — all five runners scored.

Junior Cameron Ragsdale relieved Carr, but couldn’t slow down the St. Louis bats. He was charged with six runs and only recorded one out.

Sophomore Mark Nowatnick was able to close the inning, but gave up a run of his own before doing so.

Junior pitcher Sean Labsan started the game on the mound for FAU. He threw two shutout innings in which he struck out two batters and allowed one hit.

Labsan was relieved by senior Robbie Coursel, who gave up the first run of the game in the third inning.

Sophomores Alex House and Austin Kirksey, freshman Kyle Marman and junior Colyn O’Connell combined to shutout the Cardinals’ offense over the next four innings.

“Labsan threw well, Robbie got into a little bit of trouble, Kirksey threw very well,” McCormack said. “I thought we had some good performances. Marman threw well … it’s baseball, sometimes your best guys don’t do what they’re supposed to do, sometimes other guys step up.”

All six of FAU’s runs came in the fourth inning. Junior Stephen Kerr led the inning off with a single.

Senior Billy Endris and junior CJ Chatham followed and scored Kerr, with a walk and a hit respectively. Freshman Tyler Frank hit a two-run single to center field, scoring Labsan and Chatham.

Seniors Brett Lashley and Frank scored the Owls’ fifth and sixth runs after third baseman Austin Langham reached base following an error from Wilson.

Kerr and Chatham finished the game with two hits each.

“They’re good players, I knew they were gonna get their hits,” McCormack said. “I’m happy for them and they were able to show against some big leaguers, so it was exciting.”

Austin Gomber — who played for McCormack at FAU from 2012-2014 — started the game for the Cardinals against his former school. He recorded three strikeouts and retired all six batters he faced in his two innings of work.

“It was awesome,” McCormack said. “That was a thrill, to see him out there and to know that he’s getting close to being a big leaguer.”

The Owls will look to put the exhibition loss behind them and continue the undefeated start to their regular season when they host Georgetown University over the weekend. The first game of the series is on Friday, March 4, 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.