Baseball: Owls lose first series of season to Charlotte

Team loses first-place lead in Conference USA.


Senior second baseman Stephen Kerr fouls off a pitch during the Owls game versus the Saint Louis Cardinals on March 2, 2016. Ryan Lynch | Outgoing Editor

Brendan Feeney, Sports Editor

Florida Atlantic baseball dropped 2-of-3 games against the Charlotte 49ers in a series that saw 57 total runs cross home plate.

FAU’s (23-6, 9-3 C-USA) pitching staff came into the weekend with the seventh lowest ERA in the country. However, it allowed 27 runs this weekend after allowing 27 runs in its previous 11 games combined.

“That’s a pretty good hitting team,” head coach John McCormack said of Charlotte. “I thought that they were going to have a really good year, be an impressive team in the league … it looks that way.”

Senior pitcher Brandon Rhodes gave up the first six Charlotte (15-19, 5-7 C-USA) runs of the weekend in less than five innings of work on Friday. The 49ers went on to score six more runs in the series opener to win 12-7.

Sophomore Marc Stewart started Saturday’s game on the mound for FAU. He allowed three earned runs in six innings, but the team won and improved to 8-0 in games that he’s started this season.

“I thought he pitched fine,” McCormack said. “He did enough, it wasn’t vintage Marc … he did a great job at damage control.”

Junior pitcher Sean Labsan entered Sunday’s game with a 4-0 record and a 0.41 ERA. He only gave up one earned run, but allowed five unearned as well. His offense tried to help him out, but couldn’t eclipse six runs and the score remained tied until the 49ers won in 15 innings.

“We got to be able to go out there after our team scores and get us some zeros,” McCormack said. “And get us some zeros at the beginning of the game to give the offense a chance. We’ve been playing from behind a lot (as) of late.”

This marked the first series (out of eight total) that the Owls were unable to win all season.

Hitter of the Weekend: CJ Chatham: Despite going 0-for-5 in Sunday’s game, the junior shortstop still recorded seven hits, five runs and seven RBIs.

“He’s scary good,” McCormack said. “We have a guy like him every 10 years.”

Pitcher of the Weekend: Alex House: The sophomore pitcher was the first out of the bullpen in Friday and Sunday’s game. He threw four and one third scoreless innings after both starting pitcher’s gave up six runs.  

“Goat” of the Weekend: Friday’s Devon Carr: After his offense scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth to come within two, the senior relief pitcher allowed four runs and only recorded one out. Carr pitched again on Sunday, throwing a scoreless 11th and 12th inning.

The Owls travel to Fort Myers on Tuesday, April 12, to take on Florida Gulf Coast University.

Here’s a recap of each game:

Game One: Charlotte 12, FAU 7

The 49ers jumped on Rhodes early, striking for two runs in the first inning and three more in the second.

Meanwhile, junior pitcher Sean Geoghegan stifled the Owls offense early. He allowed one run in the first seven innings, which came from a single off senior right fielder Brett Lashley’s bat.

Trailing 7-1 in the bottom of the eighth, senior center fielder Billy Endris awoke the Owls bats with a solo home run. Chatham, senior left fielder Christian Dicks, junior first baseman Esteban Puerta and junior designated hitter Sean Labsan followed with four consecutive singles.

Junior third baseman Austin Langham grounded into a double play to stop the rally, but Puerta scored to reduce the lead to two runs, 7-5.

Looking to give his offense one more opportunity to tie the game, McCormack called Carr into the game. Carr entered the weekend without giving up a single run in 14 innings. On Friday, he allowed four while only recording one out.

Dicks knocked in two more runs in the bottom of the ninth with a double, but the Owls fell five runs short of the comeback.

Endris finished the game 3-for-5 with two runs and one RBI.

Game Two: Charlotte 8, FAU 17

Charlotte freshman center fielder Reece Hampton led off the game with a triple over the first base bag and scored two batters later.

The score remained 1-0 until the fourth inning, when both pitching staffs began to implode, starting when Labsan hit a two-run home run over the right field wall.

The 49ers answered with  a run in the fifth, the Owls responded to that with two runs in the fifth and the 49ers then scored two more of their own in the sixth inning.

The Owls found the biggest offensive breakthrough of the game after they exploded for seven runs in the bottom half of the sixth inning.

After the teams traded two more runs apiece, 12-7, FAU scored five more runs in the eighth inning, which was capped off by a Chatham grand slam.

He finished the game 5-for-6 with three runs and seven RBIs.

“Offensively, it was a good day,” McCormack said.

Game Three: Charlotte 7, FAU 6 (15)

Puerta started the scoring in Sunday’s rubber match when he singled in junior second baseman Stephen Kerr in the first inning. Two batters later, Langham followed with an RBI single of his own.

Freshman catcher Tyler Frank then singled in both Labsan and Puerta, as the Owls put up four runs in the first inning.

Charlotte responded and took the lead off Labsan in the second inning. All five runs were unearned, but the error was committed by Labsan.

Dicks tied the score at five in the third inning when he scored on a Langham sacrifice fly. Both teams made mistakes that led to them giving up a sixth run. Charlotte scored on a wild pitch in the fifth inning, while the Owls tied the game in the eighth on a bases loaded walk.

Charlotte junior pitcher Holden Capps then battled with the FAU bullpen — junior Colyn O’Connell, House, junior Cameron Ragsdale and Carr — throughout the following six innings until Charlotte took a one-run lead in the 15th inning off FAU senior Robbie Coursel.

The Owls were later retired in order during the bottom half of the inning.

Brendan Feeney is the sports editor of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @feeney42.