FAU Baseball: Owls lose two out of three to USF

FAU scored a total of 10 runs in the series.

Photo+by+Eston+Parker+III.

Photo by Eston Parker III.

The FAU Owls baseball team (10-8) played a three-game series on the road against the University of South Florida Bulls (9-8), and they won one out of those three games.

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

 

Friday, March 19, 2021: FAU 5, USF 1

Following a tough 3-8 loss to UCF this past Tuesday, FAU rebounded on Friday night against USF in a 5-1 victory over the Bulls.

FAU took the lead starting in the third inning and never looked back, starting with a three-run triple by freshman Nolan Schanuel who subsequently scored after a Bobby Morgensen single later in the inning.

The Owls wouldn’t score again until late in the ninth inning off a sac fly by junior Jared DeSantolo. Despite a decent night offensively, the main highlight for the Owls on Friday was the excellent performance by the pitching staff.

FAU’s sophomore pitcher Hunter Cooley dominated on the mound. His seven innings, highlighted by allowing no runs and striking out six, is arguably his best outing of the season so far. Most notably, not a single batter reached third base against him and threw two perfect innings in both the sixth and seventh.

Cooley’s dominant performance was followed up by Dylan O’Connell. The junior pitcher came in the eighth inning and had a reasonably decent outing, only allowing one run in his one inning pitched. 

Junior pitcher Mike Entenza came in the ninth to close the game out for the Owls in which he almost threw a flawless inning. He struck out two of the three batters he faced and threw only 9 pitches to close out the game for FAU.

 

Saturday, March 20, 2021: USF 4, FAU 0

The Owls were thoroughly dominated by USF’s redshirt senior starting pitcher Dylan Burns on Saturday night in Tampa, managing only two hits and getting shut out 4-0. FAU’s road woes continued; they are now 4-3 away from Boca Raton this season.

The loss dropped FAU to 10-7. USF got back to .500 with the win, standing at 8-8.

Pitching ruled the day as the game finished in less than three hours, as hitters on both teams struggled to make hard contact. The game had 17 combined strikeouts.

In the bottom of the first inning, USF got all the offense it needed for the game. Freshman center-fielder Drew Brutcher led off the game with a walk and stole second base. Three batters later, redshirt freshman left-fielder Carmine Lane slammed a home run down the left-field line that barely stayed fair, giving the Bulls a 2-0 lead.

Both teams appeared confused that the home run was ruled a fair ball, but the replay was inconclusive and the call on the field stood. It was the second home run of the season for Lane, who also added a single and finished the game 2-3 with two RBIs.

Burns was the star of the game for USF, using a nasty change-up to fool FAU hitters all night. He repeatedly hit his spot on the corner with the pitch, getting the Owls to chase it, swinging over the pitch right as it dropped out of the zone. 

Burns pitched seven shutout innings and allowed only two hits while striking out six and walking two. He induced eight groundouts, getting weak contact from FAU hitters on the rare occasions that they were able to put a ball in play.

FAU’s first 11 batters failed to reach base before a two-out walk from Schanuel in the top of the fourth inning. No two-out rally would surface, however, as Morgensen was robbed of a hit by Lane on a line drive into the gap in left-center field.

The Owls got their first hit the next inning when sophomore left-fielder Mitchell Hartigan led off the fifth with a double to deep center field. He was stranded, however, as the Owls followed the double with a strikeout and two groundouts, wasting its best scoring chance of the game.

Redshirt junior starting pitcher Matt Sparling battled hard in the losing effort, setting down seven USF hitters in a row after Lane’s homer in the first, keeping the Owls in the game. Sparling used his curveball often in the game, using it to escape a first and third, one-out jam in the fourth inning, striking out two USF hitters with the curve to end the threat and keep the score at 2-0. 

Sparling struck out seven in the contest but was erratic at times, throwing two wild pitches, walking two, and hitting two batters. He left the game allowing four runs, three of them being earned runs.

USF put the game out of reach in the fifth inning, scoring two runs with one hit. A leadoff double from redshirt junior catcher Jake Sullivan was followed up with a sacrifice bunt from Brutcher, moving Sullivan to third. After Sparling hit a batter, FAU botched an easy double-play ball, with senior shortstop Wilfredo Alvarez bobbling the ball on the transfer. A run was scored as a result, and a sacrifice fly a few batters later put the game out of reach.

Hartigan and sophomore catcher Nicholas Toney managed the only two hits for FAU.

 

Sunday, March 21, 2021: USF 6, FAU 5

Despite the Owls’ efforts to win the series Sunday afternoon, they lost 6-5 to the Bulls in extra innings.

FAU got off to a good start with an RBI from Wenstrom in the first inning.

The Bulls tied in the second inning when Lane scored off a wild pitch from Owls’ pitcher Javi Rivera.

After three scoreless innings, FAU took back the lead in the sixth inning when Caleb Pendleton hit a home run to left field for the Owls.

Schanuel extended the lead to two after hitting a home run to right field at the top of the eighth inning to keep FAU safe.

Unfortunately, that comfort disappeared in the bottom of the inning when USF scored four runs to take the lead. Redshirt junior infielder Riley Hogan and redshirt sophomore infielder Roberto Pena scored the RBIs for the Bulls.

Despite getting two RBIs from Wenstrom and Alvarez to force the game into extra innings, the Owls faltered in the 11th inning with the game-winning home run coming from redshirt freshman infielder Daniel Cantu.

It was an unfortunate loss for FAU as it marked the second series loss of the season.

The Owls will return home to Boca Raton, taking on the Miami Hurricanes on March 23 at 6:30 p.m. It will be broadcast on C-USA TV.

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.

Michael Gennaro is a staff writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or follow him on Instagram @mycoolgennaro

Richard Pereira is the Sports Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @Rich26Pereira.