FAU Baseball: Owls bow out of the semifinals of the C-USA Championship

The Owls end the 2021 season with an overall record of 32-25.


Photo courtesy of Nick Blachly via Conference USA.

Richard Pereira, Sports Editor

The five-seeded FAU Owls baseball team ended their tournament run at Ruston, La., losing to Old Dominion in the semifinals of the C-USA Championship. If they don’t get invited to the NCAA Tournament, they conclude their season at 32-25 overall, including a record of 18-14 in conference play.

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


Game 1 (Wednesday, May 26, 2021): No. 18 Old Dominion 11, FAU 2

FAU began the tournament with a loss to the four-seeded Monarchs, only scoring two runs throughout the game.

The Monarchs got on the scoreboard first thanks to an RBI single to right field from freshman infielder Carter Trice and an RBI double to left-center field from junior catcher Brock Gagliardi, leading 2-0 after the first inning.

Freshman infielder Kenny Levari got the first home run of the game for Old Dominion in the third inning, getting it down to right field to increase the lead to three.

FAU got back on track with two runs at the top of the fourth with freshman infielder Steven Loden sacrificing a groundout to get sophomore infielder BJ Murray to home plate and senior outfielder Bobby Morgensen hitting a home run to right-center field, earning his 11th this season.

The Owls conceded a run in the same inning, however, as they allowed junior third baseman Matt Coutney to get to home plate despite getting a double play, where the defense got two consecutive batters on base out, in the process.

Sophomore pitcher Hunter Cooley ended his time on the mound after six innings, finishing with 91 pitches thrown, eight groundouts, and seven flyouts but allowed 13 hits. Sophomore Mitchell Hartigan came in his place.

Old Dominion made the game get out of reach for FAU in the seventh inning. Trice and Coutney got two RBIs each after hitting two singles to left field, freshman outfielder Lincoln Ransom earned two RBIs with a double to left-center field, and redshirt junior outfielder Dominick Claxton got to home plate on a wild pitch from redshirt junior Dylan O’Connell, who came on after Hartigan’s short stint on the mound.

The Owls couldn’t get the bats out for most of the game, only getting six hits compared to the Monarchs’ 16 hits.  


Game 2 (Thursday, May 27, 2021): FAU 9, No. 16 Charlotte 8

Getting a second chance to stay alive in the tournament, the Owls took advantage as they upset the one-seeded Charlotte 49ers 9-8 to advance to the quarterfinals.

The 49ers opened the scoring in the first inning with freshman first baseman Will Butcher hitting an RBI single to the left side of the field, driving home senior infielder Carson Johnson.

FAU came to life in the second inning, scoring six runs. Hartigan earned an RBI after hitting a single to right-center field, junior outfielder Jackson Wenstrom executed an excellent grand slam to right field, and Loden sacrificed an out to get senior infielder Wilfredo Alvarez home.

Johnson helped Charlotte get a run back at the bottom of the second by hitting a double to left-center field, driving sophomore catcher Aaron McKeithan to home plate.

The Owls had another scoring outburst in the fourth inning, getting three runs as a result. Freshman catcher Caleb Pendleton scored on an error from the 49ers’ defense, Alvarez scored on a balk, and Morgensen hit a single to center field, bringing FAU’s lead to 9-2.

Charlotte got another run back with a home run to left field from freshman infielder LuJames Groover III, making it his fourth this season.

Sophomore pitcher Javi Rivera subbed out after eight innings, turning in an astounding performance of 126 pitches thrown, nine strikeouts, 11 flyouts, and three groundouts. Junior Adrien Reese took his place.

The 49ers refused to back down as they scored five more runs in the ninth inning. Sophomore infielder Austin Knight earned three RBIs after hitting a double to left-center field, freshman infielder David McCabe got an RBI after getting a single to left-center field, and Groover had a sac fly to get sophomore outfielder Parker Stinnett to home plate.

Despite their efforts, the 49ers couldn’t complete the comeback as a groundout sealed their early exit from the tournament and gave the Owls plenty of motivation in the next round.


Game 3 (Friday, May 28, 2021): FAU 14, Middle Tennessee 8

The Owls lit up the bats offensively, taking down the eight-seeded Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders 14-8 to get to the semifinals of the tournament.

After a scoreless first inning, FAU scored three consecutive runs in the second. Morgensen hit a home run to right field, freshman outfielder Jalen DeBose earned an RBI with a double to left-center field, and Wenstrom got an RBI with a single to right-center field.

Middle Tennessee went on a 5-0 run in three innings to take the lead. Redshirt junior infielder Fausto Lopez scored an unearned run in the third inning after junior outfielder Cole Escher hit a single to right-center field and junior infielder DJ Wright hit a home run to center field in the fourth and a three-run home run to left field in the fifth.

Redshirt junior pitcher Matt Sparling returned to the bullpen after pitching 4.2 innings as he threw 73 pitches, struck out three batters, got six flyouts, and four groundouts. Junior Mike Entenza took his place on the mound.

The Owls quickly responded in the sixth inning with back-to-back home runs from Pendleton and Hartigan to retake the lead.

Both FAU and Middle Tennessee refused to give each other a convincing lead, especially in the seventh inning. The Raiders had three RBIs with two singles from sophomore infielder JT Mabry and freshman outfielder Bryce Symlar and a double by junior infielder Daniel Freeman. 

The Owls countered that with an RBI single from freshman infielder Nolan Schanuel, a two-run home run to right field by Loden, and another home run from Pendleton, making it his eighth this year.

FAU sealed the deal with a scoring outburst in the eighth inning, courtesy of Murray hitting a single to center field, Schanuel getting two RBIs from a double to right-center field, Loden converting a double to left-center field, and Pendleton continuing his hot streak with a single up the middle.

It was an amazing offensive performance for the Owls as they got an eye-opening 20 hits while the Raiders had 15 of their own. 


Game 4 (Saturday, May 29, 2021): No. 18 Old Dominion 13, FAU 5

Needing to beat the Monarchs twice to get to the championship game, the Owls were unable to come through Saturday afternoon as they exited the semifinals with a 13-5 loss.

Old Dominion began scoring in the second inning thanks to junior outfielder Andy Garriola hitting a home run to left field and Ransom getting a two-run home run to left-center field.

After two innings, freshman pitcher Braden Ostrander came off the mound for freshman Sam Drumheller to check-in. Ostrander threw 32 pitches, one strikeout, and five flyouts.

The Owls responded in the fourth inning with a sac fly from Morgensen and a sacrificed groundout from Pendleton to drive home Loden.

Old Dominion continued denying opportunities of letting its lead switch to FAU as they scored five runs in the next two innings. Garriola hit a three-run home run to center field in the fifth and senior outfielder Kyle Battle earned two RBIs after getting a double down the infield line.

With FAU trailing 8-2, Drumheller subbed out for Dante Visconti to enter the game. Drumheller played for 3.2 innings, threw 78 pitches, struck out three batters, got five groundouts, and three flyouts.

The Owls scored another pair of runs in the seventh inning thanks to Loden and Morgensen  hitting back-to-back singles to right field.

Old Dominion decided enough was enough as they sparked an offensive run in the seventh and eighth innings, scoring five more runs to put the game out of reach for FAU. Garriola hit a two-run home run to left field, Coutney and junior infielder Tommy Bell hit both of their home runs to center field, and Trice topped it off with a home run to left field in the eighth.

The Owls scored their final run in the ninth due to freshman outfielder Victor Castillo earning an RBI with a walk, but it was nowhere near enough for FAU to get back in the game.  

Unlike the victories against Charlotte and Middle Tennessee, FAU couldn’t get the bats out as they only had five hits the entire game. It cost them the chance to force a second game against the Monarchs and a possible appearance in the championship game. They now prepare for next season. 

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