FAU Baseball: Owls begin season winning three of four against Minnesota

The Owls outscored the Golden Gophers 39-24 throughout the series.


Eston Parker III

Opening his 13th season as FAU’s Head Coach, John McCormack and the Owls took the series victory over the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

The FAU Owls baseball team (3-1) hosted the Minnesota Golden Gophers (1-3) for a four-game set to open the season. They won three of those games.

Here is the game-by-game recap of the series:

Game 1 (Friday, Feb. 18): Minnesota 9, FAU 1

FAU opened up the season in an unspectacular fashion, losing 9-1 to the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Minnesota struck first in the opening inning on their second at-bat thanks to senior outfielder Andrew Wilhite getting an RBI double.

Following a tough first inning, sophomore outfielder Jalen DeBose tied up the game for the Owls in the second inning off an RBI double for the first run of the Owls’ season.

The Gophers struck gold immediately in the third inning, as senior catcher Chase Stanke hit the first pitch of the inning out of the park. After Minnesota scored another run shortly after Stanke’s home run, FAU’s redshirt senior pitcher Jacob Josey came off the mound for redshirt sophomore pitcher Marc DeGusipe to check in.

Josey’s first appearance since an injury early last season saw him pitch for 2 1/3 innings, in which he allowed five hits and three runs. He also struck out two batters and was eventually credited with the loss.

The Golden Gophers ended the third scoring one more run courtesy of an RBI single from junior infielder Drew Stahl.

The Owls’ batters continued to struggle in the next couple of innings despite leaving three combined runners on base via walks and one Gopher error.

Minnesota again capitalized on a quiet night for FAU’s bats, scoring another three runs in the fifth inning to increase its lead to 8-1. 

The fifth inning also saw DeGusipe’s night end on the mound, with junior pitcher Evan Waterbor replacing him. DeGusipe threw for 2 1/3 innings, allowing three runs and five hits while striking out two batters.

FAU’s tough night offensively continued for the remainder of the game as the team only managed three hits after the fifth inning. They finished the night with only one run and five hits.

The Gophers scored one more run in the seventh inning, as they finished the night with nine runs and 12 hits.

Following the initial loss, head coach John McCormack shared his thoughts on the night, “We need to pitch. We needed to make pitches to get out of innings, and we weren’t able to do it.”

Eston Parker III is the lead photographer for the University Press. For more information on this or other stories, email him at [email protected].

Game 2 (Saturday, Feb. 19): FAU 8, Minnesota 2

FAU bounced back Saturday night with a resounding 8-2 win over Minnesota.

Sophomore outfielder Jalen DeBose opened up the scoring in the bottom of the second inning, hitting a double down center field. Sophomore outfielder Dylan Goldstein was on first base but had enough time to round the bases.

In the fourth inning, the Owls were able to extend their lead by four runs thanks to DeBose getting another RBI. Senior catcher Nicholas Toney, Goldstein, and junior infielder Jackson Ross scored to bring it to 4-0.

DeBose had a tremendous performance getting four RBIs, on two hits and he scored one run in just four at-bats.

“He’s been a real spark,” head coach John McCormack said. “It’s one of those things where it really came down to the wire if he was going to be in the starting line-up on Friday and [it] kind of felt, because of his defense, let’s give him a shot.”

FAU dominated defensively, as they did not allow Minnesota to score any runs until the seventh inning, where junior infielder Drew Stahl tripled to left-center field, allowing his teammates sophomore shortstop Joe Hauser and redshirt senior outfielder Easton Bertrand to score. 

Junior pitcher Hunter Cooley had a solid performance after a 35-minute rain delay at the top of the fourth inning. Cooley faced 27 batters and pitched a total of 87 times in 6 2/3 innings, only allowing five hits and two runs, as well as five strike-outs and one walk.

“Hunter Cooley is the veteran, crafty-lefty. You could’ve had him sat here for two hours and he still would’ve been fine,” McCormack said. “He didn’t want to come out of the game. I thought the umpire missed that pitch to end the inning, maybe giving him a chance to go back out but Sam Drumheller did a great job.”

In the eighth inning, sophomore shortstop Armando Albert singled to right, allowing Goldstein to score for the third time in the game. Finally sophomore left-fielder Gabriel Rincones Jr. ended the scoring with a cannon shot over the right-center wall, bringing the score to 8-2.

Matthew Aguilar-Lizzi is a contributing writer at the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected], or tweet him @mattaguilarUP.

Game 3 (Sunday, Feb. 20): FAU 13, Minnesota 4

The weekend concluded with FAU getting a 13-4 victory over Minnesota Sunday afternoon.

FAU conceded two runs to start the game. Minnesota’s senior outfielder Andrew Wilhite and senior catcher Chase Stanke batted back-to-back home runs to give the Golden Gophers the early lead.

Minnesota’s advantage did not last long, as FAU responded in the bottom of the first inning with consecutive RBI singles from graduate outfielder Tyler Kelder and redshirt sophomore infielder Steven Loden to tie the game.

Keeping Minnesota scoreless in the second inning, the Owls witnessed sophomore outfielder Jalen DeBose hit an excellent two-run home run to center field. This marks the first home run of his FAU career. 

After preventing the Golden Gophers from getting any runs for three straight innings, sophomore pitcher Braden Ostrander stepped off the mound for junior left-hander Evan Waterbor to check in for the fifth inning. Ostrander finished his day with 61 pitches, five strikeouts and groundouts each, and two flyouts.

Minnesota took advantage of the pitching change as sophomore outfielder Brett Bateman and Wilhite sacrificed two groundouts to bring redshirt senior outfielder Easton Bertrand and junior infielder Drew Stahl to home plate, tying the game at four runs apiece. 

The Owls refused to give the Golden Gophers any momentum as they countered with five runs in the bottom of the fifth. DeBose fired his team up with an amazing hit to left field to convert three RBIs, sophomore infielder Armando Albert got an RBI after hitting a double to left field, and sophomore infielder Nolan Schanuel received the RBI with a single to right field.

“[DeBose] did a really nice job, he’s feeling it,” head coach John McCormack said. “He looks good in the box, so [it’s] always nice to get that kind of production from the bottom of the lineup.”

Debose’s performance over the first three games led to him being C-USA’s hitter of the week.

Albert brought another highlight for FAU in the sixth inning, hitting an astounding grand slam to right field to give his team a commanding 13-4 lead.

For the final inning, Waterbor checked out as redshirt senior right-hander Brock Helverson entered to pitch. Waterbor ended his time on the mound throwing 59 pitches, getting four groundouts and flyouts each, and striking out three batters.

Despite Minnesota’s efforts, FAU kept them silent for the last four innings of the game, capping off what was a great all-around performance for the team as the series finale comes on Monday.

“We just got to relax and do what we do. Don’t try to do too much. Don’t try to be someone we’re not,” McCormack said.

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Game 4 (Monday, Feb. 21): FAU 17, Minnesota 9

FAU wrapped up the series Sunday evening with a 17-9 win over Minnesota.

The Owls started hot, putting up runs in each of the first six innings. A culmination of situational hitting as well as some big-time power showed up at the right times to create the perfect storm for FAU’s bats.

Sophomore pitcher Tibur Rivero got the start on the mound for the Owls, getting through the first frame unharmed allowing only one base runner on a walk and striking out one batter looking. 

In the bottom of the first inning, the Owls wasted no time getting on the board. Sophomore infielder Armando Albert led things off with a single up the middle, followed by sophomore outfielder Gabriel Rincones Jr. driving him in with a double over the center fielder. 

Minnesota answered back immediately, however, after an error and a single brought redshirt senior Easton Bertrand to the plate and deposited a ball over the right field wall for a three-run home run. Despite that, Rivero minimized the damage to FAU and stopped the scoring there. 

The Owls wasted no time in putting up more firepower after a double by junior infielder Jackson Ross, and a walk from Albert brought Rincones Jr. to the plate again. This time, he followed up his double with a three-run home run to put the Owls back on top in the second inning. 

The Gophers tied it up in the top of the next inning with a home run of their own from redshirt senior Ronald Sweeny. 

Sophomore outfielder Dylan Goldstein picked the offense right back up in the bottom of the third with a three-run homer of his own putting the team back on top by three, at which point the Owls never looked back. 

Rivero’s night ended shortly in the fourth inning, posting a line of three innings, pitched eight hits, and six earned runs. Sophomore Sam Drumheller came in for relief, who pitched three innings, conceded one hit, and did not allow a run.

“I thought the key for us was Drumheller coming in and being able to put up a couple zeros,”  head coach John McCormack said after the game. 

The offense didn’t stop there for the Owls but rather picked up as the game progressed. Graduate outfielder Tyler Kelder had a two-run home run himself and boosted the lead back to three by the end of the fourth.

Albert stayed hot into the fifth, adding a triple to his stat line and another RBI. Rincones Jr. drove him in with another homer for his second of the night, increasing the lead to six. 

The Gophers plated two runs in the sixth from two errors taking place on the same play. A dropped flyball, which would have ended the inning and a mishandled exchange at the plate, set up the only two unearned runs on Drumheller’s night. 

Rincones Jr. continued his hot night with another RBI, this time coming off of a sac fly that extended the lead back to five. Redshirt sophomore Steven Loden iced the game with a base clearing double in the seventh, scoring three and stretching the lead to 17-8, thus putting the Gophers away. 

The Gophers tacked on the final run of the night from senior Chase Stanke, who snuck in a home run just inside the right field foul pole in the top of the seventh. 

Both offenses were content with their barrage of hits and turned to their pitching to put an end to the slugfest. 

“Up until the seventh, no lead was safe the way the balls were flying around here,” McCormack said. “Everyone chipped in, everyone had a moment where there was good stuff.”

FAU will travel to Coral Gables to play their first road game against the University of Miami on Wednesday, Feb. 23, at 6 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.

Zachary Watts is a contributing writer for the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories email [email protected] or tweet him at @ZachWatts1_.