FAU Baseball: Owls split thriller of a two-game set with Michigan

The Owls and Wolverines combined for 50 runs in the series.


Richard Pereira

Photo of sophomore outfielder Gabriel Rincones Jr. leading off of first base against Michigan on March 2, 2022.

Cameron Priester, Staff Writer

The FAU Owls baseball team (6-4) hosted the University of Michigan Wolverines (6-3) for a two-game set on Tuesday and Wednesday. The series was split between the teams. 

Game 1 (Tuesday, March 1): FAU 9, Michigan 8

Sophomore right fielder Gabriel Rincones Jr. hit a walkoff single in the ninth inning to give FAU its first-ever win over the University of Michigan in baseball.  

“It was a really great college baseball game,” head coach John McCormack said. “Our guys played great offensively. It was a great game, I enjoyed being a part [of it] and I know our guys did too. It was just a good night.” 

Though they managed to escape with a win, the Owls struggled early. The Wolverines scored the first run of the game with a triple and a sac fly in the first inning.

In the top of the third inning, sophomore right-hander Nicholas Del Prado found himself in a jam with the bases loaded and gave up an RBI single that brought two runs in, putting Michigan ahead 3-0.

“If we’re better early, we won’t have to pull ourselves out of a hole,” McCormack said. “We’ve got to recognize opportunities to score a run here and there or get out of an inning early on. But the guys stayed patient and had a really high level at bats when it counted the most.”

Junior left-hander Evan Waterbor took the mound in the top of the fourth inning after Del Prado threw 60 pitches in three innings and allowed three runs on three hits.

Senior catcher and team co-captain Nicholas Toney exited the game after the fourth inning and was seen in the dugout with a sling on his right arm. 

“He hurt his shoulder midgame. They’re gonna have the trainers take a look at him but we don’t know the ultimate status,” said McCormack.

The Wolverines plated two more runs in the top of the fourth, extending their lead to five. However, in the bottom half, FAU got its first run.

With the bases loaded and no outs, sophomore infielder Steven Loden hit an RBI single to left field followed by graduate outfielder Tyler Kelder hitting an RBI fielder’s choice to slim the Wolverine’s lead to 5-2. 

FAU added two more runs in the fifth inning via a wild pitch and a sac fly to make the score 5-4.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, sophomore shortstop Armando Albert layed down a sacrifice bunt scoring the runner from third and tying the score at five apiece.

The sixth inning was the end of Waterbor’s night on the mound after throwing 56 pitches in three innings and allowing three hits and two runs. 

Sophomore right-hander Sam Drumheller came in for Waterbor in the seventh inning and retired the side in three batters. 

In the bottom of the seventh, sophomore designated hitter Dylan Goldstein hit an RBI single to give the Owls a 6-5 lead—their first lead of the game.

The Wolverines got the lead back with a leadoff double and an RBI triple in the top of the eighth inning. In the bottom of the eight inning, sophomore first baseman Nolan Schanuel hit a sac fly down the left field line, scoring Albert from third to make Michigan’s lead 8-7 heading into the ninth inning. 

Down two, with one out in the bottom of the ninth, Albert drew his second walk of the game with the bases loaded, sending in the tying run.

Up next to bat was Rincones Jr. who hit the walk-off RBI single to right field to give the Owls the 9-8 win.  

“It was a team win,” said Rincones Jr. “I’m more happy with the team win than my own performance. I was just able to come up when it counted.”


Game 2 (Wednesday, March 2): Michigan 20, FAU 13

The FAU bullpen had a rough outing Wednesday night in the 20-13 loss to Michigan. The Owls had 10 different pitchers take the mound over the course of the game, only one of them lasting more than an inning.

“It was not a pleasant night. We have to be better,” head coach John McCormack said. “Some different guys are getting the opportunity to pitch, and we’ve got to make sure to capitalize on those opportunities because we need to continue to build this bullpen.”

Graduate left-hander Tyler Burnham struggled on the mound out of the gate and faced just five batters before sophomore right-hander Hayden Compton was called out of the bullpen.

Michigan plated five runs in the top of the second inning to take an early lead. The Owls scored four runs of their own in the bottom half with the help of two RBI singles from freshman designated hitter Dom Presto and sophomore center-fielder Jalen DeBose to make the score 5-4.

“[Presto] got his first collegiate start and ended up with a couple hits and and a couple runs scored, so there were some superlatives tonight,”McCormack said of Presto stepping in for injured senior catcher and team co-captain Nicholas Toney.

Sophomore right-hander Hayden Compton also lasted a single inning pitching for FAU as sophomore left-hander Marc DeGusipe took the mound to start the third inning.

In the bottom of the third inning, sophomore left fielder Dylan Goldstein hit an RBI single to center field to notch the score at five apiece. Sophomore shortstop Armando Albert followed that up a few batters later with an RBI single of his own to give FAU a 6-5 lead.

The Owls continued to take advantage of the Wolverines’ struggles on the mound and took a 7-5 lead with an RBI fielder’s choice hit by sophomore second baseman Steven Loden in the bottom of the fourth inning. 

DeGusipe threw 35 pitches in three innings, allowing two hits and no runs. In the top of the sixth inning, senior right-hander Jacob Josey came out of the bullpen to pitch for the Owls. 

Despite the pitching changes, Josey became the third FAU pitcher of the night to only last a single inning as freshman left-hander Max Martzolf took the mound for the Owls to start the seventh inning.

Martzolf continued the same trend and only lasted a single out before being replaced by sophomore right-hander Sam Drumheller after hitting a batter with the bases loaded sending home a run. A grand slam for Michigan on the following at-bat gave the Wolverines a 10-7 lead.

In the top of the eighth inning, the Owls’ pitching completely fell apart as the Wolverines plated four more runs, extending their lead to 14-7, their largest lead of the night.

Not going out without a fight, FAU rallied to score six runs in the bottom of the eighth to shrink the Wolverines’ lead back to 14-13.

Michigan had another explosive inning on offense plating six runs in the top of the ninth inning with no answer from the Owls, leaving the score 20-13 at the end of the game.

“There’s too many ups and downs. I think we’re only running at about 50-60%, I don’t think we’re as good as we could be, but only time will tell,” McCormack said.

The FAU baseball team will now prepare to host the Fordham University Rams (2-6) for a three-game series from Friday, March 4, through Sunday, March 6, in Boca Raton, Fla. All three games will be broadcast on C-USA TV

Cameron Priester is a staff writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @PriesterCameron.