Baseball: Owls score 31 runs over weekend, win 2-of-3 over Illinois

FAU has not lost a three-game series yet this season.

Freshman+center+fielder+Eric+Rivera+went+3-for-5+with+a+home+run%2C+three+RBIs+and+two+runs+scored+in+Sunday%27s+win+over+Illinois.+Ryan+Lynch+%7C+Editor+in+Chief

Freshman center fielder Eric Rivera went 3-for-5 with a home run, three RBIs and two runs scored in Sunday's win over Illinois. Ryan Lynch | Editor in Chief

Hans Belot Jr., Sports Editor

After splitting two high scoring affairs on Friday and Saturday, Florida Atlantic baseball exploded early and often in Sunday’s rubbermatch to take the series against the University of Illinois.

The series victory comes after the Owls (6-4-1) failed to win any of their three previous games, picking up two losses and a tie in the process.

Recap this weekend’s games here:

Game 1, Illinois 10, FAU 11

The Fighting Illini scored a run in each of the first three innings, but their lead evaporated when FAU scored seven runs in the third, highlighted by two three-run home runs — one by senior Austin Langham and another by sophomore Tyler Frank.

Illinois retook the lead with a five-run fourth, which included a three-run homer as well as a two-run double. The Illini then added to it with a homerun in the seventh, making it 9-7.

FAU sophomore defensive replacement Brad Mathiowetz hit a towering solo shot with one out in the eighth. And after back-to-back walks, junior David Miranda hit a three-run homer to right field to take a 11-9 advantage.

Though the Fighting Illini hit yet another homer with two outs in the ninth, senior Cameron Ragsdale nailed it down with a strikeout for his second save of the year.

The FAU bullpen combined for over five innings of four-hit, two-run baseball.

Junior Mark Nowatnick picked up the win. He allowed a leadoff hit in the top of the eighth, but got a huge 6-4-3 groundout double play and a flyout to set up the ninth.

Game 2, Illinois 14, FAU 4

Illinois scored runs in six straight innings and had six home runs to defeat FAU in game two.

Back-to-back four-run innings in the fourth and fifth, pushed the Illini out to a double-digit lead, and freshman starting pitcher Ty Weber gave up just one run in six innings of work.

The first FAU run came on a Miranda solo homer in the bottom of the sixth, his second in as many days. The Owls would go on to add three runs in the eighth, sparked by a two-run single by senior Kevin Abraham, but any potential comeback fell short.

A ninth inning single by Frank extended his season-opening hitting streak to 10 games. Senior Jared Shouppe returned from four games off with a ninth-inning single as well, and freshman Gary Mattis added two more hits on Saturday and is now batting .359.

Game 3, Illinois 2, FAU 16

The Owls scored three runs in each of the first two innings, three runs over the third and fourth combined, and five runs in the fifth inning, leaving no doubt as to who would come out of Sunday’s game victorious.

Freshman Eric Rivera started the scoring with a solo home run in the first inning. He went 3-for-5 with two runs and three RBIs in the ballgame. Mattis and Frank each had three hits as well.

Senior Sean Labsan also picked up a home run in the fourth inning, and finished with two hits  and two RBIs along with Abraham.

Sophomore Nick Swan earned the win on the mound. He threw six innings and allowed one run.

The Owls will play Bethune Cookman on Tuesday, March 7, at 4 p.m. in Daytona Beach.

Hans Belot Jr. is the sports editor of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him at @Don_Phenom_.