FAU Baseball: Owls lose three out of four against Old Dominion

This was the second series FAU lost in conference play this season.


Mitch Hartigan focuses on the ball against Old Dominion on April 9, 2021. Photo by Eston Parker III.

The FAU Owls baseball team (16-16, 5-7 C-USA) hosted a four-game series against the Old Dominion Monarchs (24-6, 10-2 C-USA) this weekend, only winning one of those matches.

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


Game 1 (Friday, April 9, 2021): Old Dominion 7, FAU 2

FAU’s baseball team suffered a 7-2 home defeat against Old Dominion University. It was a sure victory from the beginning seeing how Old Dominion had more energy and a better presence on the field. 

Everything started off fine for starting pitcher Hunter Cooley, until an error by shortstop Wilfredo Alvarez caused Old Dominion to gain some traction in the top of the second, bringing in the first two runs of the ball game.

Things weren’t looking too bright for FAU, until they got their first run in the bottom of the fourth inning. It seemed as the game would finally turn in favor of the Owls, but it never came to fruition.

The top of the eighth inning was where it truly started to go downhill. It started off with a line drive base hit by Old Dominion’s third baseman Matt Coutney. The next at-bat gave FAU a strikeout for their first out of the inning, followed by a base hit for Old Dominion. However, it was the home run from pinch hitter Thomas Wheeler that sealed FAU’s fate, who would go on to sub in for starting center-fielder Ryan Teschko.

After another strikeout gave the Owls their two outs, the finishing blow was just moments away from happening. Another home run was taken over the right center field in spectacular fashion by outfielder Kyle Battle. 

Whatever hope FAU had of winning this game was brutally crushed by that second home run. It resulted in Old Dominion adding five more runs to the scoreboard, ending the game 7-2 in favor of Old Dominion.


Game 2 (Saturday, April 10, 2021): Old Dominion 10, FAU 3

In the first game of the double-header, the Owls again struggled to get any rhythm going as they fell to Old Dominion 10-3. 

The Monarchs took the lead early into the first after a sacrifice fly, but FAU responded immediately in the next half inning via Nolan Schanuel’s 40th RBI of the season. Unfortunately for FAU, they wouldn’t score again until the final inning.

Old Dominion took back the lead in the second via another sacrifice fly. From that point forward they didn’t look back.

Matt Sparling started on the mound for the Owls and while he did pick up his second loss of the season, he threw for five solid innings, only allowing one run and struck out two. Sparling was followed by Brock Helverson, whose performance can simply be described as forgettable.

Helverson came in to start the sixth inning and started his outing with a scary moment when a pitch hit an ODU batter in the helmet. Thankfully, the player walked off the field seemingly with no major injuries. Beyond that, Helverson neither finished the inning nor recorded a single out in the sixth. He allowed four runs as it was arguably his toughest outing this season.

Coming in with the bases loaded and nobody out, Dylan O’Connell came into the game to relieve Helverson and possibly navigate the Owls out of a crisis. Unfortunately, O’Connell could not stop the high-flying ODU offense. ODU put up 10 runs in the sixth inning, delivering the knockout blow to the Owls right before the final inning. 

The Owls were at least able to put up two more runs in the final inning, but nowhere near enough to make a comeback. 


Game 3 (Saturday, April 10, 2021): Old Dominion 8, FAU 2

In the second game of a hot and blustery double-header Saturday, the Owls continued their losing streak with an 8-2 loss to a high-flying Monarchs squad.

The Owls actually came out of the gates swinging and took an early lead in the first off of BJ Murray’s ninth home run of the season, which gave FAU a 2-0 lead. Unfortunately for the Owls, they were the only runs scored for them the entire game.

Dante Visconti got the start for FAU and threw a strong first couple of innings, striking out five of the first seven batters he faced. 

After an encouraging start to the game, ODU again had a standout inning that propelled them to another victory. A pair of doubles combined with a three-run home run capped off an inning of six runs for the Monarchs, never looking back once they secured their lead.

Visconti pushed through until the fifth inning, where he was eventually relieved after allowing another two runs. Visconti ended the day with four full innings tossed along with throwing eight strikeouts but was matched by conceding eight earned runs.

Sam Drumheller came in to start the fifth inning and had a decent outing, tossing two scoreless innings and struck out two. 

In between pitchers, the offense was simply unable to rattle ODU’s starter, Hunter Gregory. Gregory tossed a complete game for the Monarchs, shutting down FAU’s batters for a majority of the game.

Jackson Spiller came in to finish the game on the mound for the Owls and had a quality outing, tossing the full inning and allowed no runs while also getting one strikeout. 

FAU simply was outmatched by ODU’s pitching in both games, while FAU had one standout inning in each game which essentially secured the victory for ODU in both matchups.


Game 4 (Sunday, April 11, 2021): FAU 4, Old Dominion 0

The Owls snap their seven-game losing streak as they shutout the Monarchs, 4-0.

First pitch was scheduled for noon, but was moved to 10 a.m. because of possible inclement weather later in the day. With the early start time, it seems that the bats were sleeping on both teams. 

It was a pitching duel between ODU starting pitcher Ryne Moore and FAU sophomore Javi Rivera, who pitched his best game of the season.

Rivera pitched eight innings, striking out seven batters, while allowing zero earned runs, three hits and two walks. He put in a ton of work as he threw 115 pitches.

Head coach John McCormack sang his praises in the post-game conference. 

“What a performance by Javi Rivera,” McCormack said. “Not only for him, but for us. We really needed it coming into today, because the starting pitching has been beaten around a little bit and he did a really good job, he was under control and was in some traffic, but navigated through it. Really proud of him.”

While Rivera kept the Monarchs at bay, the Owls weren’t getting anything going against Moore, who pitched six innings while striking out five and allowing zero earned runs and four hits. Moore got into a jam in the bottom of the sixth inning with the bases loaded, but sophomore third baseman BJ Murray grounded into a double play to keep the game scoreless.

ODU brought in relief pitcher Jason Hartline after and the Owls once again got in another bases loaded situation, but failed to score again. FAU left 10 runners on base by the end.

When the eighth inning came around, the Owls came back to their scoring ways as they scored four runs, the only runs scored in the entire game. 

Murray redeemed himself from the sixth inning by hitting a two-RBI home run to give the Owls their first runs on the board. Afterwards, freshman second baseman Sam Low hit an RBI to score for sophomore Mitchell Hartigan. The fourth and final run came from senior Wilfredo Alvarez, who drew a walk with the bases loaded, driving in Low. 

“I thought the team did a great job today,” McCormack said. “They were present and in the game, which people would say they should always do that, but it’s not as easy when you’ve been through some of the things we’ve been through like injuries and COVID-19. 

To keep the score where it was, freshman Braden Ostrander relieved Rivera after his performance and was solid as he struck out three, giving up only one hit. What got him into trouble is that after he gave up a double, he hit the next two batters with the baseball to let the Monarchs have the bases loaded with the tying run at the plate. Ostrander stood tall and struck out the next two players to conceal the win for FAU.  

McCormack talked about Ostrander and what he makes of him in his freshman season and the possibility of him becoming a central piece in the bullpen.

“I think so,” McCormack said. “He pitches with such emotion and his stuff is good, but we just have to keep getting him out there. He loves his teammates and I have no issue giving him the ball, but we just have to get him more experience.”

While the Owls came out on top, they suffered another injury. Freshman center fielder Jalen DeBose was up to bat in the sixth inning when he was hit by the pitch in “the inside of the wrist,” according to McCormack. He also mentioned that DeBose will be getting an X-ray to know the severity of the injury.

“He got hit pretty good and he was in real pain,” McCormack said.

The Owls go back out on the road as they won’t return until April 30, playing two series at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) from April 16-18 and in-state rival Florida International University from April 23-25. Both series will be broadcast on C-USA TV.

Elliot Rodriguez is the Entertainment Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email him at [email protected] or DM his Instagram, @elliotyaknow.

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.