Baseball: Owls sweep Western Kentucky in final regular season series

Owls take Conference USA regular season championship after Marshall defeated on Saturday.



oming into the weekend, Florida Atlantic baseball needed all three wins against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and a little help from other teams in the conference just for a chance at the Conference USA regular season championship.

After sweeping the Hilltoppers (24-30, 10-20 C-USA) and seeing Marshall lose to Old Dominion on Saturday, the No. 17 ranked Owls won their first C-USA regular season championship on the final day of the regular season.

FAU (37-15, 21-8 C-USA) will head to Southern Mississippi on Wednesday, May 25, to play in the C-USA Tournament. After winning the C-USA regular season championship, they will receive a bye into the second round as the top seed.

Below is a summary of each game:

Game One: FAU 4, WKU 3 (12)

The Owls needed extra innings to win the first game of their series against the Hilltoppers, beating WKU 4-3 in 12 innings on a sacrifice fly by freshman catcher Tyler Frank.

Frank’s late game heroics capped off a two-RBI performance for him, his first coming on a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the sixth inning to tie the game at two.

Western Kentucky took the lead in the top of the ninth inning after graduate student catcher Ty Downing singled in a run to give his team a 3-2 lead.

Facing a one-run deficit in the bottom half of the inning, head coach John McCormack pinch hit sophomore Gunnar Lambert for redshirt sophomore Jose Bonilla Traverso. After Lambert was hit by a pitch, McCormack pinch ran redshirt junior Ben Siegel for him.

Following a sacrifice bunt by junior second baseman Stephen Kerr and a groundout to second base by senior center fielder Billy Endris that pushed Siegel to third, CJ Chatham drew a two-out walk to put runners on first and third.

Siegel would not have to wait for contact by redshirt junior first baseman Esteban Puerta to run, as a wild pitch allowed him to score and tie the game at three.

Senior Brandon Rhodes started his final game on the mound at FAU Stadium, giving up two runs on seven hits in seven innings of work.

After Rhodes, the Owls bullpen took over, giving up four hits and one run through four innings. Junior Cameron Ragsdale pitched two innings of hitless baseball, surrendering only one walk during his appearance.

Senior Robbie Coursel registered his fifth win of the year after pitching a scoreless 12th inning. Western Kentucky senior John Hartman received the loss, his first.

Game Two: FAU 10, WKU 2

The first three innings of the second game of the series served as an offensive exhibition for FAU, as the team scored 10 runs on its way to its second win of the week.

Puerta and Endris registered four and three RBIs respectively. Chatham, Kerr and senior left fielder Christian Dicks each had one RBI.

The early lead allowed David McKay a secure path to his third victory of the year. The redshirt sophomore pitched seven innings, giving up two runs and six hits. Sophomore Mark Nowatnick pitched the final two innings, giving up four hits and no runs.

Senior Austin King received his sixth loss of the year after surrendering nine of the 10 FAU runs on nine hits.

Game Three: FAU 4, WKU 1

With rain in the forecast for Saturday, the third game was pushed to Friday as part of a doubleheader to allow for the game to be played without interruption. But an early storm caused the game to be suspended in the seventh inning with the Owls leading 4-1.

FAU scored a run in each of the first two innings. Endris scored on a throwing error at first base in the first inning and an RBI single by senior right fielder Brett Lashley.

Sophomore Marc Stewart recorded his sixth win after pitching six innings on Friday, giving up a run and four hits. Ragsdale earned his 14th save of the season after pitching a scoreless ninth inning.

Ryan Lynch is the multimedia editor of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @RyanLynchwriter.