Baseball: Owls sweep North Florida in pair of weekday games

FAU is 12-0 at home this season


Photo by Max Jackson

Matt Brown, Contributing Writer

Florida Atlantic baseball took both of their games versus the University of North Florida in its midweek series.

Here’s a recap of each game:

Game One- FAU 14, UNF 1

In the first 15 games of the season, the Owls hit seven home runs total as a team. They nearly matched that total in this game alone, hitting six out of the park in a blowout victory over North Florida 14-1.

After not reaching base the first two innings, sophomore center fielder Eric Rivera got the Owls first hit of the game with a single up the middle. He eventually advanced to third after a failed pickoff attempt by Ospreys pitcher Cooper Bradford.

A ground out to short by junior left fielder Diamond Johnson eventually scored Rivera to give the Owls an early 1-0 lead.

The Ospreys tied it up in the top of the fifth. With one out, centerfielder Tanner Murphy got on base with a single to short. He then stole second before being sent home two batters later on another single to short by shortstop Jay Prather. That was the closest the Ospreys got all game, as the Owls offense exploded over the next three innings.

The Owls onslaught started in the bottom of the fifth, when junior shortstop Tyler Frank reached first on a fielder’s choice that scored freshman designated hitter Andru Summerall to give the Owls a 2-1 lead.

The game was broken wide open when the Owls scored eight runs, seven coming off of two home runs in the next inning.

It started off with four straight hits by third baseman Joe Montes, senior right fielder David Miranda, an RBI double by sophomore first baseman Pedro Pages and an RBI single by sophomore center fielder Cody Wilson.

That sent Osprey starting pitcher Bradford to the bench, with the team later bringing in Eddie Miller in relief.

His outing didn’t last long. After walking junior catcher Gunnar Lambert to load the bases, Rivera hit the first grand slam of the season to extend the lead to 8-1. He then hit Summerall with the first pitch of the next at-bat officially, ending his night.

Frank added to that lead two batters later with the second home run of the inning to break the game wide open at 10-1.

After a strikeout by Pages to start the inning, freshman second baseman Jared Desantolo sent his first career hit out the park in right field.

Lambert joined him in the next at bat, also hitting a solo home run to right field.

Two batters later, Summerall sent the first pitch he saw to dead center for the Owls third home run of the inning, extending the lead to 13.

Frank opened the bottom half of the eighth hitting a solo homer to left center, his second and the team’s sixth for the day, to give the Owls the eventual 14-1 victory.

Junior pitcher Nick Swan earned the win, pitching two innings of relief while allowing just one unearned run on three hits while striking out three.

Junior starting pitcher Marc Stewart pitched four innings allowing no runs and just three hits and striking out three. He was pulled after reaching a predetermined pitch count.

The Owls were led by Frank, who was 2-for-5 with two home runs and four RBIs.

Rivera was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and four RBIs, due to his grand slam.

Summerall was 1-for-2 with a home run and three RBIs along with a walk.

Eight of the nine starters recorded a hit with nine players total scoring a run.

The six home runs hit was one away from tying the team record for a single game set back in 1999 against Kentucky.

FAU only had two more hits overall than UNF, with 11 compared to the Ospreys’ nine.

Overall, the Ospreys left 13 men on base compared to the Owls two.

Game Two- FAU 10, UNF 9

After recording just one run the entire game the night before, the Osprey’s doubled that early in this one. Osprey left fielder Dalton Board was walked to start off the game before advancing to second on a wild pitch.

He was sent home by the next batter, Murphy, after a double to left center field on a 2-2 count.

Murphy advanced to third after a balk by sophomore pitcher Nick Prather. He scored after right fielder Alex Hendricks grounded out to short to give the Ospreys an early 2-0 lead after not leading at all yesterday.

After the Owls went three up and three down in the bottom half of the inning, designated hitter Chris Matthias and second basemen Max Law started off the top of the second with back-to-back-singles. Matthias scored after first baseman Alex Reynolds grounded into a double play.

The Ospreys extended their lead once again in the top of the third, starting off the inning with a double to right field by Board, where he later advanced to third on a wild pitch.

He later scored after Reynolds hit a hard grounder to the Owls second baseman Frank who threw it home to try to get Matthias with the tag out. He got caught in a pickle before eventually being rewarded home after senior catcher Kevin Abraham obstructed the path to home extending the lead, 4-0.

The Owls couldn’t get anything going on the offensive end early, recording just four hits in the first four innings of play. That ended in the bottom of the fifth when they exploded scoring seven runs on five hits.

Montes scored the first run of the game for FAU, a solo home run to left field.

Rivera cut the deficit to two with a sacrifice fly to center to score Miranda.

Abraham then gave the Owls their first lead of the game off his first home run in three years to the day. He sent that three-run shot to left field to give the Owls a 5-4 lead.

Montes helped add two more to that lead, scoring Frank and Johnson on a double to left field.

Wilson gave the Owls a little breathing room in the top of the sixth with a two-run home run to left field.

In the next inning Frank hit his fourth home run of the season, and third of the series, to extend the lead to six, 10-4.

“Just stay simple and try to barrel something up,” said Frank on his approach prior to the home run.

After four straight scoreless innings the Ospreys finally got back on the scoreboard in the top of the eighth with a solo homer by catcher James Fitzpatrick to make it 10-5.

UNF made it interesting in the top of the ninth starting off the inning with two straight walks by junior pitcher Weston Clemente.

Then a single to left field by Murphy loaded the bases with one out ending Clemente’s night.

Senior pitcher Drew Peden came in for relief where on his first pitch allowed a grand slam by Hedricks to pull the Ospreys within one, 10-9.

Junior pitcher Zach Schneider came in for him after that. He did have a man on first and second before eventually stranding the runners to get the save and 10-9 victory.

“That was really bad relief pitching,” said FAU head baseball coach John McCormack. “…Zach did enough to get us out of it. It wasn’t pretty, but we won and we’ve got to move”

Senior pitcher Mark Nowatnick got the win after coming in relief for the starter Prather. He allowed just one hit and struck out six in 3.2 innings of work.

The Owls were led by designated hitter Pedro Pages who went 4-for-5 and scored two runs.

Frank went 1-for-3 with a homerun, two runs scored, and an RBI.

For the series overall, the Owls hit 10 home runs and scored 21 runs.

“It was some really good two days to hit at this park,” said McCormack. “We have had some tough days here…it all evens itself out in the end.”

12 of their 13 wins have come at home where they have yet to lose.

The Owls (13-4) begin conference play this weekend with a three-game road trip at Old Dominion from March 23-26.

Matt Brown is a contributing writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @mattyb407.