Baseball: FAU sweeps Middle Tennessee State in three-game series

Before this series, the Owls were 0-3 in Conference USA play.


Nicholas Windfelder

John Schroeder rounds third base after a hit by 1

Maddox Greenberg, Business Manager

FAU baseball (15-10, 3-3 C-USA) picked up their first conference win of the season with a three-game sweep over the Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders (11-13, 2-4 C-USA) this past weekend.

Game 1 (Friday, March 24): FAU 13, MTSU 5

A historic night for junior catcher Caleb Pendleton, who tallied 7 RBIs and two home runs to give the Owls a dominant 13-5 win over the Blue Raiders on Friday night.

The Blue Raiders were coming off of a 13-5 victory against Tennessee Tech University, but Pendleton’s performance and a solid contribution by the Owls’ bullpen put them back in the losing column.. 

The top of the first inning did not start too well for graduate student left-handed pitcher Hunter Cooley, who was one of five pitchers in the game for FAU. Eight out of nine MTSU batters made a plate appearance in the first inning, plating three runs. With the help of Pendleton and junior infielder Jackson Ross, the Owls’ offense made up some ground and took a 4-3 lead in the bottom half.

The Owls moved their lead up to 7-3 at the end of the fourth inning as junior first-baseman Nolan Schanuel stole home in the third inning, and junior outfielder Jalen DeBose and redshirt sophomore infielder Daulton Frank scoring in the fourth. 

Middle Tennessee State would quickly make a comeback scoring two runs in the top of the fifth inning by graduate outfielder Gino Avros and senior shortstop Brett Coker. 

But it wasn’t until all the way in the seventh inning where the Owls’ offense revitalized again. Junior infielder Armando Albert scored on error;. Pendleton then stood at bat and struck a grand-slam putting the Owls ahead 12-5 at the end of the seventh inning.

Senior infielder Jackson Ross knocked a base hit into  left field, scoring DeBose in the bottom of the eighth inning. MTSU finished with 17 hits versus FAU’s 12, but the five errors the Blue Raiders made compared to the single error FAU made proved fatal.

“We got to a little bit of a rough start. Give up three in the top, and give credit to [Middle Tennessee], they came in ready to go. And then we answered back, thankfully, with Caleb. He’s been working diligently on his swing, him and coach Santiago, and today was a good day for him,” said head coach John McCormack on Caleb Pendleton’s dominant performance.

Game 2 (Saturday, March 25): FAU 6, MTSU 2

Saturday’s game started very similar to the first game. Junior first baseman DJ Wright scored the first run for the Blue Raiders on a single hit by-3 senior second baseman JT Mabry single.

The Owls continued to struggle on offense in the beginning in the bottom of the second inning getting retired on three batters. In the top of the third a base hit gave the Blue Raiders an early 2-0 lead.

In the bottom of the fourth, Goldstein doubled, sending Schanuel and Ross to home plate to tie the game 2-2.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Ross doubled to left field, advancing Hartigan to score from second base to give the Owls the lead at 3-2.

The Owls’ offense came alive in the bottom of the eighth inning with three total runs. Millan knocked a hit to the left field corner, letting Goldstein score from first-base. Then, DeBose hit past the first baseman to the right field corner, leading Millan to score from second base. Lastly, Hartigan hits a single to right field, leading to DeBose and putting FAU ahead 6-2.

Goldstein finished the game with a team-high two RBIs.

“Just keep doing what we’re doing. [Middle Tennessee State is] going to throw a guy that’s got a really, really good arm. So, our guys have got to be ready to hit the ball in the strike zone. Sunday, to face a guy throwing 100 [miles per hour] on Getaway Day is not easy, but we got to be ready to play,” said Coach McCormack on what FAU has to do to get ready for their series finale against Middle Tennessee State on Sunday.

Game 3 (Sunday, March 26): FAU 7, MTSU 5

The series finale started off just like when the series began, with the Blue Raiders up first. MTSU’s offense started off with an RBI double and a run on error, an RBI double and a run on error in the top of the first inning.

The Owls responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the second inning when Pendleton scored on a single hit by a single hit by DeBose leaving the Owls down by one run, 2-1. In the third inning, both teams notched two runs leaving the score at 4-3.

DeBose scored in the fourth inning, and Ross and Goldstein both scored in the sixth inning, giving FAU a late 6-4 lead.

Junior left fielder Jackson Galloway scored a run in the eighth inning for the Blue Raiders. Pendleton, continuing his solid weekend performance, later scored for the Owls, leaving FAU with a 7-5 victory..

“We found a way [to win] today, and Nick [Del Prado] did save us. We came out a little discombobulated–made an error, couldn’t corral the ball in right field, gave up a run, then [Middle Tennessee State] got a hit to score another run. We were able to chip it back in a kind of similar type-thing. And Del came in and just threw strike after strike, making the defense settle down, and we were able to make a few hits and take the pressure off a little bit. A really good Sunday win,” said McCormack after Del Prado allowed four hits, one run, and three strikeouts late in the Owls’ win.

FAU will face off against the University of Central Florida Knights in a stand-alone game on Tuesday, March 28, at 6:30 p.m.

Maddox Greenberg is the Business Manager for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or DM via Facebook @maddox greenberg.