FAU Baseball: Owls open the season winning two of three against 24th ranked UCF

The Owls offense came alive in this series, scoring a total of 38 runs.

Catchers Caleb Pendleton and Nicholas Toney hit home runs in Saturday and Sunday’s game. Photos by Eston Parker III.

Catchers Caleb Pendleton and Nicholas Toney hit home runs in Saturday and Sunday’s game. Photos by Eston Parker III.

Colby Guy, Editor-In-Chief

The FAU Owls baseball team (2-1) opened their series against the No. 24 UCF Knights (1-2), and they came out of the series winning two of the three games.

Here’s the University Press’ game-by-game recap of the action.


Game 1: FAU 12, UCF 6

After a 40-minute weather delay on Friday night, sophomore pitcher Jacob Josey took the mound and dominated. He struck out six batters and only allowed four hits, two walks, and one run in five innings of work.

The bats did the rest of the work for the Owls.

Freshman first baseman Nolan Schanuel had a spectacular collegiate debut, hitting 3 for 6 with four RBIs.

“It’s sad to say, but we kinda expected it,” head coach John McCormack said of Schanuel. “He’s been so good in intersquads, so we kinda expected it. We haven’t had many freshmen who are as savvy as he is at the box, so it’s enjoyable to watch.”

The Owls were holding on to a 5-1 lead following an RBI double from Schanuel, but UCF’s sophomore infielder tied the game up with a game-tying grand slam in the bottom of the seventh inning.

FAU went on to score four runs of their own in the top of the eighth, with Schanuel hitting a single that scored two of those four runs with the bases loaded to put the Owls up 9-5.

The door for a UCF comeback was then shut in the top ninth when Senior infielder Wilfredo Alvarez and junior outfielder Jackson Wenstrom hit back-to-back home runs.

Alvarez reached base on all six of his plate appearances, collecting three hits, including a double and a home run, and 2 RBIs while drawing three walks.

Sophomore pitcher Hunter Cooley was credited with the win. He allowed two hits, including the game-tying grand slam, a walk, and two earned runs in 1.1 innings.


Game 2: FAU 20, UCF 15

Stadium lighting problems might’ve delayed Saturday night’s start time by an hour and 25 minutes, but it was well worth the wait for FAU fans.

Saturday night was the ‘Caleb Pendleton Show,’ as freshman catcher Caleb Pendleton became the first player ever to hit two grand slams in his first two collegiate at-bats in the same inning.

“The first one, I was just trying to hit the ball, I didn’t want to strike out with the bases loaded,” Pendleton said. “I was just trying to put the ball in play, and when I got to first base, I was saying ‘get out ball, get out ball,’ but it went out.”

Pendleton finished the game with two hits and eight RBIs, all coming from those two second-inning grand slams.

Those home runs were a part of a 12-run second inning that blew the game wide open for the Owls. 

Schanuel, who just happened to be Pendleton’s roommate and summer ball teammate, also hit a home run in that same inning.

“They were a package deal, the two of them came together, and they’re really good friends,” McCormack said. “It’s neat to see them both playing and doing well.”

He finished the game with two hits, two RBIs, and three runs in five at-bats, also drawing a walk.

Sophomore pitcher Javi Rivera made his FAU debut and pitched 4.1 innings, allowing four hits, five runs, five walks, and striking out five batters.

Junior pitcher Adrien Reese was credited with the win, allowing four runs and four hits in a walk in three innings, striking out five batters in the process.


Game 3: UCF 15, FAU 6

The Owls were able to start this game off on a high note, as sophomore catcher Nicholas Toney put them up 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning, but a mix of shotty relief pitching and errors got to them later on.

Despite a historic night from Pendleton the day before, Toney earned the starting nod at catcher. He didn’t disappoint Coach McCormack.

“You know, it’s a long season and catching is very tough,” McCormack said. “It was late, we didn’t get off the field until 11 and we had to turn around and play at 1:00, and Toney was fresh. He had a good game.”

Junior starting pitcher Matt Sparling had a solid five innings of play, allowing just three hits and two walks with six strikeouts and three earned runs, but the game ran away from the Owls in the top of the sixth inning.

The Knights went on to score six runs in that inning, including a two-run home run that junior first baseman Nick Romano hit off of Sparling at the beginning of the inning. The other four runs in that inning were scored off of errors.

“In that sixth inning, we had a chance to get out of it twice with two routine ground balls, and we couldn’t do it,” McCormack said. It’s disheartening that you can’t pick up the ball and throw it to first base.”

Schanuel was able to drive in two runners with a single to right field to make it 8-6 in the bottom of the eighth. The Owls then loaded the bases after senior outfielder Bobby Morgensen got hit by a pitch with two outs, but Toney flew out to center field and three runners were left stranded.

UCF’s sophomore catcher Ben McCabe answered back in the top of the ninth with a solo home run off of junior pitcher Mike Entenza, putting the Knights up 9-6. 

UCF found themselves with the bases loaded, and freshman infielder Matt Archer delivered with a single to put them up 10-6. Entenza then drilled the next batter with a pitch to load the bases again, being pulled with two outs.

Freshman pitcher Jack Stroud immediately came into the game and gave up a walk, making the score 11-6. Stroud then balked in the next at-bat, which drove home another run to make it 12-6.

UCF’s redshirt senior right fielder Jordan Rathbone then cleared the bases with a three-run double to make it a 15-6 ball game. 

Alvarez had a chance to end the inning with a routine ground ball, but he couldn’t get a hold of it and was charged with an error. Luckily for him, a flyout to Morgensen finally ended the seven-run inning in the next at-bat. 

FAU wasn’t able to climb out of that 15-6 hole in the bottom of the ninth and the game ended at that score.

However, the Owls won’t let the loss throw them off, as they get ready to play again on Tuesday.

“It’s baseball and these guys have played a lot of it,” McCormack said. “They know there’s another game, so they’ll go home, do their homework, and we’ll get back to it tomorrow, get on the bus on Tuesday, and go play.”

The Owls will be headed to Fort Myers to play the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles on Tuesday, Feb. 23. First pitch will be at 6:00 p.m., as it will be broadcast on YouTube.

Colby Guy is the Editor-In-Chief for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @thatguycolbs