Baseball: Extra innings walkoff lifts FAU over No. 17 Miami

A walk off in the eleventh inning sealed the Owls’ 7-6 victory over the #17 Miami Hurricanes Wednesday night.


Nicholas Windfelder

Jalen DeBose heads to the dugout after catching the the third out in the top half of the first inning against USF on Feb. 24, 2023.

Cameron Priester, Sports Editor

Before Wednesday night, the FAU Owls (23-15, 7-8 C-USA) had met the University of Miami on the baseball diamond close to 100 times since 1982; and the Hurricanes essentially dominated the south Florida rivalry, winning 70 of the 91 meetings before Wednesday.

This season, however, a new leaf seems to have been turned over in the rivalry. 

In the 92nd edition of the matchup on Wednesday, a walk off walk in extra innings lifted the Owls over the #17 Hurricanes (23-14, 10-8 ACC) 7-6, giving FAU a 2-1 lead in the season series, and their fourth victory over a ranked opponent this season. 

“It’s another game on the schedule,” said head coach John McCormack. “It’s good for the program, it’s good for us, but I don’t look at it as us versus Miami. We just need to win baseball games.”

The game-winning walk was drawn by sophomore right fielder John Schroder, and set up by the 2-run deficit the Owls were facing heading into the bottom of the eighth inning. 

An explosive start on offense by the Hurricanes, two runs in the first and three in the fourth, put them out ahead early. But, a solo homer from senior first baseman Nolan Schanuel in the first and a two-run shot by junior left fielder Dylan Goldstein in the fourth kept FAU within reach.

After the Hurricanes 3-run rally, FAU’s pitchers, 10 total on the night, settled in on the mound and held Miami scoreless for the final seven innings of play, which left the score 5-3 heading into the eighth.

Down two runs in the eighth, a pair of singles and a throwing error loaded the bases for junior catcher Caleb Pendleton, who hit a sacrifice to score the runner from third and make it a 1-run ballgame.

In the bottom of the ninth, junior center fielder Jalen Debose stepped into the batter’s box to leadoff the inning and launched his first homer of the season, a solo shot over the left field fence to tie the score at five and send the game to extra innings; which McCormack said, “100 percent,” was the game’s turning point.

“He doesn’t give up home runs. I told the team he’s one of the best closers in college baseball the last ten years,” said McCormack of Miami right-hander Brian Walters, who conceded the homer to Debose. “Jalen got a good pitch, and didn’t try to do too much.”

After a scoreless tenth inning, Miami put runners on second and third in the top of the eleventh, before sending one home on a wild pitch to take a late 1-run lead.

Again facing a 1-run deficit with three outs to play, FAU was again able to rally back; Unlike the earlier comeback that took a single swing from Debose, their second comeback, this time in extra innings, took a group effort. 

The eleventh inning rally started with junior shortstop Armando Albert drawing a leadoff walk before senior third baseman Jackson Ross reached base on a single. With Miami looking to avoid the red-hot bat of Schanuel, the Hurricanes intentionally walked him, loading the bases. 

With the bases loaded and one out, Miami called upon sophomore left-hander Alex Walsh to close the game, but he walked the first batter he faced, scoring Albert from third to tie things at six all. 

Senior DH Mitchell Hartigan struck out swinging on the next at bat, sending Schroeder to the plate for the biggest moment of the night: tie game, bases loaded, two outs. 

A base hit may have been more exciting, but Schroeder’s at bat, albeit more underwhelming, got the job done in the same way, as he drew a walk sending the runner home from third to win the game and the FAU dugout onto the field to celebrate the walk off. 

“That’s a great college baseball game, by both teams. Their third baseman (Yohandy Morales)… wow, that guy is incredible,” said McCormack. “We turned four double plays, made big pitches, got timely hitting. Really, really good baseball game and I’m glad our guys fought through and came out on top.”

In addition to giving FAU the lead in their season series with Miami, the extra innings victory marks their third victory over a ranked opponent in 15 days, after taking down the #15 Florida Gulf Coast Eagles twice, on April 4 and 11. It also rights three consecutive losses, after being swept by conference foes, the Dallas Baptist University Patriots, this past weekend. 

The Owls will now continue their conference schedule heading on the road for a three-game series with the Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers (19-19, 4-11 C-USA) starting on Friday, April 21 at Nick Denes Field in Bowling Green, Ky. The series will be broadcast by C-USA TV.

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