FAU Baseball: Owls lose two out of three against Indiana State

This is the first series FAU has lost this season.

Matt+Sparling+throws+against+the+Sycamores+on+March+13%2C+2021.+Photo+by+Eston+Parker+III.

Matt Sparling throws against the Sycamores on March 13, 2021. Photo by Eston Parker III.

The FAU Owls baseball team (9-5) hosted a three-game series against the Indiana State Sycamores (9-5), and they were outmatched in all but Saturday’s game.

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

 

Game 1 (Thursday, March 11, 2021): ISU 7, FAU 5

FAU looked to rebound following its tough 11-2 loss to the Miami Hurricanes on Tuesday with a series-opening win against Indiana State on Thursday. Despite a strong start to the game, the Owls were beaten 7-5 on Thursday night by a resilient Sycamores squad.

Senior outfielder Bobby Morgensen opened up the game with a three-run home run in the first inning, but the Owls eventually lost their lead in the fourth and trailed the rest of the game. 

The Owls wouldn’t score again until freshman infielder Steven Loden knocked in two runs in the seventh, which also happened to be his first two RBIs in his collegiate career.

Sophomore pitcher Javi Rivera started the game for the Owls, throwing for three innings and allowed three runs off six hits. Junior Adrien Reese followed Rivera, also tossing for three innings but only allowed two runs off two hits. Redshirt juniors Thomas Haggerty and Dylan O’Connell both threw in the seventh, with neither allowing runs nor any hits in the inning.

However, despite not starting the game, sophomore Hunter Cooley sustained his first loss of the season after pitching the final two innings for the Owls. He allowed two runs off two hits and also threw three strikeouts.

 

Game 2 (Friday, March 12, 2021): ISU 10, FAU 2

After a tough loss on Thursday night, FAU looked to bounce back on Friday. Unfortunately for the Owls, they fell 10-2 to the Sycamores in what was a tough night overall.

Sophomore pitcher Jacob Josey started the game on the mound for the Owls but was taken out early amid a tough second inning. He gave up two earned runs off three hits and did throw a strikeout. He is credited with his first loss of the season.

During a six-run second inning for the Sycamores, Josey was taken out in relief from sophomore Jackson Spiller. Spiller threw for just over two innings and also allowed two runs and threw two strikeouts. 

The Sycamores scored six of their 10 runs in the second inning, with all their runs coming with two outs in the inning. While Indiana State had a great night of hitting, the same cannot be said for the Owls.

FAU struggled to score throughout the game, not scoring any runs until sophomore catcher Shane Magrann hit the Owls’ only runs of the game off a two-run home run in the eighth inning. Ultimately, FAU only had eight hits in the game and struggled mightily to get any momentum throughout the game.

To round up the pitching performance for the Owls, freshman Dante Visconti came after Spiller and was arguably FAU’s best pitcher on Friday. He threw for two innings, allowed no runs and no hits while throwing three strikeouts. Following a strong relief outing from Visconti, freshman Nicholas Del Prado came in and threw for two innings but allowed two runs off three hits and did not record a strikeout. 

To finish the game, freshman Jack Stroud threw in the ninth and allowed no hits nor any runs while garnering one strikeout.


Game 3 (Saturday, March 13, 2021): FAU 7, ISU 5

The No. 20 FAU Owls snap their three-game losing streak as they take the final game of the series against the Sycamores, 7-5.

While the offense has shown they can score big, starting pitcher Matt Sparling put up a solid outing by pitching six innings, striking out eight, allowing three hits and two runs with one earned. All that with a high pitch count of 92.

“It was certainly imperative that we played well and ultimately come away with a victory,” head coach John McCormack said. “Especially with the way things have gone this week, not pitching well in Miami and then the last two nights here. Overall, I thought Sparling did great.”

FAU started the game with fireworks, scoring five runs in the first inning. Freshman standout Nolan Schanuel drove in two runs with senior Bobby Morgensen and freshman Caleb Pendleton hitting home runs, each driving in one and two more runs, respectively. 

The scoring slowed down for the Owls as they only scored two runs for the rest of the game with one in the third and fifth inning. McCormack expressed post-game that the team needs to get better offensively and said they left too many runners on base. Coach McCormack was right as they left eight. 

When the offense runs out of gas and can’t expand the score, the pitching is vital to keep the lead. The aforementioned Sparling did his job in keeping the lead, but it was left to the bullpen to stop a five-run Sycamore comeback. 

John Helverson and O’Connell came in after Sparling and they both combined for one hit, one strikeout, and only one run allowed. When junior reliever Mike Entenza entered the game in the ninth to close it out, it was rocky. Entenza threw 24 pitches while allowing a walk and two earned runs, tightening the Owls lead to only two off the bat of Indiana State junior Aaron Beck who hit a two-run bomb to right field. 

“We like the way he [Entenza] threw, but we gotta get him more work,” McCormack said. “Our games have been so lopsided with us up or down, that we haven’t been able to use him. However, we were pitching him today regardless of the score, but we’re going to have to monitor that a little bit better.”

Entenza has made six appearances with seven innings pitched as he’s pitching a 10.29 ERA with two saves so far this season. While it’s still early, Entenza is valued as a reliable, consistent pitcher last year as his ERA was at an outstanding 0.55 in 10 appearances. 

For FAU, it’s great to get back in the win column as the schedule doesn’t get any easier. The Owls go on the road this upcoming week to face the University of Central Florida Knights on Tuesday, play a three-game set with the University of South Florida Bulls this upcoming weekend and come back home on Mar. 23 in a rematch against the Miami Hurricanes. After that, they head into conference play. 

Approaching a hefty schedule, Coach McCormack said FAU’s mindset is just to play well and handle business.

“Get on the bus, play well, do what we got to do, and come home,” McCormack said. “Since we don’t think [Jacob] Josey will pitch, we got to figure out another starter if it’s going to be [Jackson] Spiller or try somebody else. Our mindset is to not look far ahead, let’s just concentrate on having a good day tomorrow, getting our homework done, and making sure we’re taking care of ourselves.”

Eston Parker III is the Photo Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @EstonParker.

Zachary Weinberger is a staff writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @ZachWeinberger.