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Baseball: Owls advance to first ever C-USA tournament championship after 9-8 walk-off victory over Rice in extras

Jared DeSantolo hit the game winning RBI double

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Baseball: Owls advance to first ever C-USA tournament championship after 9-8 walk-off victory over Rice in extras

FAU head baseball coach John McCormack talks to his players during their 2017 series against Charlotte. Ryan Lynch | Editor-in-Chief

FAU head baseball coach John McCormack talks to his players during their 2017 series against Charlotte. Ryan Lynch | Editor-in-Chief

FAU head baseball coach John McCormack talks to his players during their 2017 series against Charlotte. Ryan Lynch | Editor-in-Chief

FAU head baseball coach John McCormack talks to his players during their 2017 series against Charlotte. Ryan Lynch | Editor-in-Chief

Matt Brown, Contributing Writer

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FAU Baseball advances to their first ever C-USA tournament championship after defeating Rice 9-8 on a walk-off double in the bottom of the 10th inning.

Trailing 8-5 heading into the bottom of the eighth No.3 FAU (40-16-1) scored four unanswered runs to pull out their second straight victory over Rice. It was the Owls third straight win-or-go home victory as well.

No. 7 Rice (26-31-2) fails to make it to their third straight conference tournament championship game, ending their season.

With one out in the bottom of the 10th on a 3-2 count designated hitter Jared DeSantolo hit a liner down the right field line scoring Eric Rivera all the way from first, sending the team out onto the field for the long-awaited celebration at 2:05 a.m., the latest game in C-USA tournament history.

After quickly falling behind 1-0 early FAU took the lead in the bottom half of the first, scoring three runs on three hits.

Rice answered back in the next two innings, scoring four unanswered runs to retake the lead, 5-3.

FAU cut the lead to one in the bottom of the fourth after Rice walked home a run but failed to plate any more after center fielder Cody Wilson grounded into a double play to end the inning.

Rice extended the lead back to two the next inning after shortstop Ford Proctor sent an RBI single through the middle.

FAU answered back loading the bases again in the bottom half with one out. Catcher Kevin Abraham’s single through the left side made it a one run game again, 6-5.

Rice took their biggest lead of the night in the sixth after left fielder Andrew Dunlap two run homer put them ahead 8-5.

Still trailing 8-5 and facing a 2-2 count in the bottom of the eighth Rivera hit an RBI double to pull FAU within two.

Later in the inning trailing by one, third baseman Joe Montes hit a two out two strike RBI single up the middle, scoring Rivera and tying the game at eight apiece.

Neither team could put runs on the board in the ninth sending the game into extras.

Rice loaded the bases in the 10th but Zach Schneider got them to ground out to end the inning.

Rivera led off the 10th with a base on balls, setting up DeSantolo to send him home, which is exactly what FAU head baseball coach John McCormack expected.

“I called that.” said McCormack following the game. “I thought the right fielder was playing a little shallow and Jared (DeSantolo) has pull power and I said if we can get it down that corner Eric can score from first.”

Schneider was credited with his sixth win of the season after coming on in relief in the 10th inning where he got Rice to ground out twice to end the inning.

DeSantolo was 3-5 with a run scored and two RBIs.

Montes and Abraham were also 3-for-5 with Montes contributing two RBIs and Abraham one.

The Owls are to face off against the winner of Southern Miss/UNC Charlotte in the championship game Sunday with first pitch scheduled for 2:00 p.m est.

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

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