FAU Baseball: Owls drop two games at home against Charlotte

Due to weather conditions on Saturday, the teams played a doubleheader on Sunday.

Photo+of+Jackson+Ross+at+bat+against+Charlotte+on+May+13%2C+2022.

Nicholas Windfelder

Photo of Jackson Ross at bat against Charlotte on May 13, 2022.

The FAU Owls baseball team (31-21, 15-11 C-USA) hosted the University of North Carolina at Charlotte 49ers (33-18, 16-11 C-USA) for a three-game set. The Owls took just one game in its final home series of 2022. 

Game 1 (Friday, May 13): Charlotte 10, FAU 3

Despite the lopsided final score, senior right-hander Hunter Cooley, who got the start for the Owls, came out of the dugout firing on all cylinders. He retired the first six batters he faced without allowing a baserunner.

FAU took the first lead of the game in the bottom of the second inning on an RBI double from sophomore center-fielder Gabriel Rincones Jr., scoring junior designated hitter Mitchell Hartigan from second base to make the score 1-0.

The 49ers quickly answered in the top of the fourth, tying the score at one run apiece. Sophomore designated hitter David McCabe hit a double down the right-field line, the first of four base hits he would record throughout the game, followed by an RBI single from junior third baseman Jack Dragum to equalize.

The 49ers’ bats came alive in the top of the fifth, plating five runs to take their first lead of the game at 6-1. The rally started with Cooley allowing back-to-back base hits to lead off the inning, followed by an RBI single to left field by junior shortstop Austin Knight scoring the runner from second. After a sac fly to center field plated another run for the 49ers, McCabe knocked a three-run homer over the right-field wall to extend Charlotte’s lead to five.

Despite the rough fifth inning, Cooley stayed on the mound for the Owls into the sixth. However, he gave up another homer to lead off the inning, this time at the hands of freshman right fielder Cam Fisher, whose solo homer extended the 49ers’ lead to 7-1.

“I felt confident that he was going to get out of that,” said head coach John McCormack on his decision to leave Cooley on the mound through the sixth inning. “I didn’t see that three-run homer coming, I don’t think anyone did.”

Cooley’s night ended after the sixth, as sophomore right-handed pitcher Tibur Rivero came out of the bullpen in the top of the seventh. In six complete innings, Cooley threw 87 pitches but allowed seven earned runs on seven hits and a walk.

Charlotte’s bats stayed hot in the eighth, plating three more runs to push their lead to 10-1. Rivero allowed two consecutive singles and a walk to lead off the inning. Rivero hit the following batter with a pitch, allowing the runner to score from third, before being replaced on the mound by sophomore southpaw Sam Drumheller. On the first batter he faced, Drumheller gave up an RBI single up the middle to graduate first baseman Josh Madole for two runs, giving the 49ers their largest lead of the night.

The Owls added two runs in the bottom of the ninth on an RBI double from graduate right-fielder Tyler Kelder and an RBI single hit by Rincones Jr., trimming the lead to seven. However, the two base hits were not nearly enough to topple the 49ers’ huge lead, leaving Charlotte with a 10-3 victory.

“Wins,” McCormack said frankly on what he wants to see in the final games of the regular season. “We need wins to put us in a better seeding in the conference tournament. [Charlotte] is behind us in the standings, and look how good they are, so we’ve got to be better.”

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

 

Game 2 (Saturday and Sunday, May 14 and 15): FAU 10, Charlotte 9

FAU fought hard for 15 innings to get a close win in this offense-heavy matchup. After originally being postponed due to rain, the game was played on Sunday morning. 

Sophomore left-fielder Dylan Goldstein kickstarted the Owls’ offense when he homered in the bottom of the first inning, scoring sophomore first baseman Nolan Schanuel. Junior third baseman Jackson Ross added another run for FAU by launching a solo homer to right field.

FAU quickly lost the lead following a grand slam from Charlotte in the top of the second. The game was delayed before completing the inning, as FAU trailed 4-3. An RBI single in the fourth increased the deficit to 5-3 once the game resumed on Sunday. 

Sophomore catcher Caleb Pendleton homered in the top of the sixth inning. The Owls regained the lead in the bottom of the seventh, following a two-RBI double from senior third baseman Shane Magrann. FAU led 6-5. 

Charlotte tied the game in the eighth, then took the lead following a three-run top of the ninth. 

Junior right-fielder Mitchell Hartigan rocketed a clutch home run in the bottom of the ninth, tying the game at nine runs apiece to force extra innings.

Goldstein was the hero for FAU when he drilled a single to right field in the 15th inning, scoring sophomore center-fielder Gabriel Rincones Jr. to win the game. Sophomore pitcher Nicholas Del Prado earned the win. 

Kevin Garcia is a staff writer for the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, email him @[email protected], or tweet him @kevingar658.

 

Game 3 (Sunday, May 15): Charlotte 14, FAU 4

The Owls were unable to win their final home series of the season, falling 14-4 to Charlotte following the second game of the matchup.

Charlotte got things started with junior infielder Jack Dragum hitting a two-run homer to right field and sophomore outfielder Jake Cunningham batting a solo home run to center field, putting their team up 3-0.

FAU responded in the bottom of the first inning. Senior catcher Shane Magrann got a single to left field that drove home sophomore first baseman Nolan Schanuel and sophomore center-fielder Gabriel Rincones Jr. to cut the 49ers’ lead to one.

The 49ers took a run back the following inning. Sophomore infielder Nate Furman singled to left field as he brought freshman catcher Huck Wathan to home plate.

Charlotte added two runs in the third inning. Sophomore first baseman Will Butcher fired a single to left field to get Cunningham and freshman outfielder Cam Fisher home, bringing the score to 6-2.

Graduate left-handed pitcher Tyler Burnham came off the mound after three innings for redshirt sophomore left-hander Marc DeGusipe to take his place. Burnham threw 63 pitches, struck out three batters, and got four flyouts and two groundouts.

Cunningham kept up his hot streak in the fifth inning, blasting another solo homer to left field for the 49ers to expand their lead to five runs.

Junior left-hander Evan Waterbor switched places with DeGusipe during the top of the fifth. The latter had 37 pitches, three flyouts, and one strikeout.

After four scoreless innings, the Owls got back on the board in the bottom of the sixth. Junior right-fielder Mitchell Hartigan sacrificed a groundout as it gave sophomore left-fielder Dylan Goldstein the chance to reach home plate. After that, graduate designated hitter Tyler Kelder hit a double to right field that saw Magrann deliver another run for the team.

Waterbor subbed out as redshirt sophomore right-hander Robert Wegielnik came on the mound to start the seventh. Waterbor finished with 39 pitches, two flyouts, and a strikeout.

FAU could not keep Charlotte off the scoreboard as the 49ers added five more runs in the seventh inning. Furman batted a single up the middle for Wathan to get to home plate, Dragum launched a double down left field to drive Furman and junior infielder Austin Knight home, and graduate infielder Josh Madole got a single to right field as Fisher and Dragum delivered the 49ers their last two runs of the game.

With the score too far to reach, the Owls ended the final game of the series with the mercy rule.

Having already clinched its spot in the Conference USA Tournament, FAU will play its final three-game series of the regular season on the road in Huntington, W.Va, taking on Marshall University from May 19-21. The matchups will be broadcast on C-USA TV.

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