FAU Baseball: Owls conclude conference play after drawing series against Southern Miss

The Owls end conference play with an 18-14 record.


Photo courtesy of Lauren Sopourn via FAU Athletics.

Richard Pereira, Sports Editor

The FAU Owls baseball team (29-23, 18-14 C-USA) hosted their final series this weekend against the nationally-ranked Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (35-17, 22-9 C-USA). The Owls won two out of four games to end conference play this season.

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


Game 1 (Friday, May 14, 2021): FAU 3, USM 1

FAU began the series on a good note, limiting Southern Miss to just one run to win the series opener 3-1.

After two scoreless innings, the Owls got on the scoreboard in the third inning with Mitchell Hartigan hitting a home run to right-center field, marking his sixth this season.

Southern Miss equalized with its only run of the game at the top of the fourth as sophomore catcher Blake Johnson hit an RBI double to right-center field to drive sophomore infielder Will McGillis home.

The stalemate did not last long as FAU’s freshman infielder Steven Loden hit a crucial two-run home run to right field, giving the Owls the lead for good.

Sophomore pitcher Hunter Cooley came off the mound after seven innings to have redshirt junior Dylan O’Connell enter the game. Cooley finished with 105 pitches thrown, seven strikeouts, seven flyouts, and six groundouts.

The Eagles couldn’t score any runs after the fourth inning due to excellent pitching from the Owls. That defensive performance allowed FAU to upset Southern Miss Friday evening.


Game 2 (Saturday, May 15, 2021): USM 6, FAU 1

Southern Miss began the doubleheader Saturday afternoon with a win, taking down FAU 6-1.

The Eagles struck first at the top of the third with junior outfielder Gabe Montenegro hitting a two-run home run to right field, giving Southern Miss the first and only lead of the game.

FAU only scored one run throughout the game, as it was an RBI single at the bottom of the third from senior infielder Wilfredo Alvarez to drive home freshman outfielder Jalen DeBose.

McGillis responded for Southern Miss, hitting a home run to left field to further dent FAU’s chance of coming back.

After conceding the home run, redshirt junior pitcher Matt Sparling subbed out for freshman Sam Drumheller to check-in. Sparling pitched 3.1 innings, threw 72 pitches, struck out two batters, and two groundouts.

Southern Miss ended the game for good in the final inning due to sophomore infielder Charlie Fischer hitting an RBI single to center field and sophomore outfielder Reece Ewing sacrificing a groundout to drive home sophomore utility Christopher Sargent.

Only conceding two runs, Drumheller turned in a performance of 51 thrown pitches, two strikeouts, and five groundouts for his time on the mound.


Game 3 (Saturday, May 15, 2021): USM 14, FAU 8

The Golden Eagles concluded the doubleheader taking another win on the road, winning 14-8 against the Owls.

FAU got off to a hot start, hitting consecutive two-run home runs to right field courtesy of sophomore infielder BJ Murray and Loden to give FAU a 4-0 lead.

The lead cut to one in a matter of minutes as the Eagles responded in the second inning with their own two-run home run to right-center field from McGillis and an RBI by freshman infielder Reed Trimble after being hit by a pitch.

Redshirt sophomore Brock Helverson subbed out after pitching 1.1 innings to have junior Adrien Reese enter the game. Helverson threw 41 pitches, struck out two batters, and one flyout.

The pitching change by FAU didn’t work as Southern Miss got hot offensively in the fourth inning. Trimble hit a three-run home run to left field. The Owls switched from Reese to junior Mike Entenza but Sargent topped it off with a two-run home run to left field, handing an 8-4 lead to the Eagles.

FAU got back on track as freshman infielder Nolan Schanuel hit a double to right field, driving home Murray and Alvarez to cut the deficit to two.

The Owls came close to coming from behind in the fifth inning as Hartigan converted a home run to right field, making the score 8-7.

As O’Connell checked in for Entenza, he didn’t expect Southern Miss to unload another offensive masterclass performance in the sixth inning. Trimble hit a home run to left-center field and got two RBIs after hitting a single to left field, Johnson hit an RBI single to center field to drive sophomore infielder Danny Lynch and freshman Billy Garrity home, and McGillis scored an unearned run after freshman infielder Dustin Dickerson reached on a dropped fly,  

The Owls scored one last run at the bottom of the sixth with a double down the infield line from Hartigan, driving senior outfielder Bobby Morgensen home. While it was their best offensive performance in the series, it was their worst defensive performance since the 14-9 home loss against the Miami Hurricanes.


Game 4 (Sunday, May 16, 2021): FAU 9, USM 6

FAU concluded conference play with a resounding 9-6 win over Southern Miss Sunday afternoon.

The Eagles opened up the scoring in the second inning, getting an RBI triple to left field from McGillis as he drove home Ewing.

Southern Miss maintained its momentum in the third inning thanks to Trimble hitting a two-run home run to left field and Lynch getting an RBI triple to left field to get Sargent to home plate.

After three scoreless innings, the Owls scored due to an excellent home run to right field by Schanuel, which marks his 11th this season.

It was an unfortunate day for Javi Rivera, who was undefeated in the five conference games he started. He ended his day after six innings, throwing 116 pitches, striking out five batters, getting nine flyouts, and five groundouts but conceded five costly hits.

What made things interesting was that Hartigan took Rivera’s place on the mound, which was the first time since March 30 against Florida Gulf Coast that he got a chance to pitch for the Owls this season. After conceding a run with a walk, his time on the mound didn’t last long as an outpouring of rain delayed the game. He was then subbed out in favor of freshman Dante Visconti when the game returned to play.

The rain delay appeared to be a blessing in disguise for the Owls, as they became more focused offensively when play resumed and it showed at the bottom of the seventh.

Junior outfielder Jackson Wenstrom hit a home run to right field, Murray, Loden, and Hartigan converted three consecutive RBI singles, and Morgensen scored an unearned run after catcher Caleb Pendleton reached on a fielding error. 

FAU continued turning the tides in its favor after Morgensen got two RBIs in the eighth inning after hitting a single to right field, driving home Schanuel and Murray in the process.

The Eagles got one last home run at the top of the ninth from Fischer, but it was too late as the Owls took advantage of the change in momentum.

FAU concludes its regular season on May 18 at Coral Gables against the Hurricanes at 6 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.

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