Baseball: Owls take two of three against Charlotte

FAU took the first two games but fell in the series finale this weekend against the Charlotte 49ers.

FAU Baseball (28-20, 12-12 C-USA) picked up a pair of conference wins splitting a weekend series with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte 49ers (24-23, 13-10 C-USA) two games to one. 

Game 1 (Friday, May 5): FAU 3, CHA 2 

After struggling all night at plate, FAU’s bats came alive in the eighth and ninth innings to take the series lead Friday night. 

The Owls fell behind 2-0 after being held scoreless and to just three hits through seven innings of play. 

That was until the top of eighth when FAU rallied for a pair of runs to tie the score at two apiece. Senior first baseman Nolan Schanuel knocked an RBI single into left field scoring one, before sophomore center fielder John Schroeder came home on a fielding error to tie the score at two. 

With the score tied at two, junior center fielder Spencer Rich led off the ninth with a walk before stealing second base. Then as he attempted to steal third, 49ers’ catcher Kaden Hopson overthrew the third baseman allowing Rich to come home for the go-ahead run. 

Redshirt junior right-hander Robert Wegielnik, who came in during the eighth, retired the side on three batters in the bottom of the ninth to earn the save and secure the one-run victory. 

“Robert was unbelievable in the eighth and the ninth,” said head coach John McCormack of Wegielnik who holds a team-best 1.89 ERA.

Junior right-hander C.J. Williams got the start for FAU and found success limiting the 49ers offense as the Owls struggled at the plate early on. Williams threw 5 ⅔ innings allowing two runs on four hits. 

“We’ve had a hard time closing these out all year,” said McCormack. “What a really nice win to get the weekend started.”

Game 2 (Saturday, May 6): FAU 10, CHA 9

A two-run homer off the bat of junior center fielder Spencer Rich in the top of the ninth lifted the Owls over Charlotte for the series victory on Saturday night.

Redshirt junior right-hander Jacob Josey got the start for FAU and struggled early on as the 49ers plated six runs in the first two innings. 

After allowing four runs to come home in the first, Josey allowed two more to come across in the bottom of the second off a solo homer and an RBI double, leaving the Owls down 6-0 early on. 

In the top of third, FAU’s offense came alive and cut the 49ers’ lead in half, sending home three runs. Junior shortstop Armando Albert led off with a walk and scored on a fielder’s choice, before junior left fielder Dylan Goldstein blasted a two-run homer to leave the score at 6-3.

Charlotte knocked their second homer of the game in the bottom of the third; a two-run homer over the left field fence that put the 49ers ahead 8-3.

Both teams remained scoreless in the fourth, until Goldstein recorded his second hit of the game with an RBI triple that slimmed Charlotte’s lead back down to four. 

After taking over for Josey to start the third, freshman right-hander Tyler Murphy gave up his third run of the game in the bottom of the sixth as 49ers’ left fielder Blake Jackson knocked a solo homer to right field—their third of the game.

Facing a five-run deficit, the Owls bats got hot again in the top of the eighth as they sent home four runs on three hits to shrink Charlotte’s lead down to one. 

Rich started the rally by scoring two on an RBI double down the third base line, before junior second baseman Christian Adams sacrificed himself with a groundout to score another. Then with two outs, senior third baseman Jackson Ross placed an RBI single in left field to make it a 9-8 ballgame.

Despite being called upon to close the night before, Wegielnik took to the mound midway through the eighth, and kept the 49ers to leave it as a one-run game heading into the ninth.

Goldstein led off the ninth with a walk and stole second, putting a runner in scoring position for Rich, who stepped in and blasted the go-ahead two-run homer. After Rich’s homer, which gave FAU their first lead of the night, Wegielnik retired three straight batters in the bottom of the ninth to secure the Owls’ second come-from-behind victory of the series.  

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

Game 3 (Sunday, May 7): CHA 12, FAU 4

The Owls’ attempt to sweep Charlotte came up short as they suffered a rough 12-4 blowout loss due to pitching and hitting inconsistencies.

In the top of the first inning, the Owls struck first with a RBI groundout by Dylan Goldstein that made it 1-0.

Charlotte answered back with a huge five-run inning all from two outs. The biggest crush to the Owls was a two-out grand slam by junior outfielder Jake Cunningham. 

In the bottom of the third, 49ers’ senior Jack Dragum hit a solo homerun off of junior right-hander Nicholas Del Prado. This rough outing from Del Prado will lead to his statline ending with only two innings pitched, six earned runs and four walks.

Graduate left-hander Hunter Cooley, who came in for relief in the bottom of the third, could not get the job done. He threw two innings giving up four earned runs, five hits and one strikeout.

Charlotte would continue to tally up runs against the Owls, which led to a 11-1 lead during the 5th inning. 

In the top of the seventh, graduate catcher Andrew Hernandez knocked the first homer of his career, a solo shot to left field moved the score to 11-3. In the ninth, Rich would send one out of the park as well, but that wouldn’t be enough to topple the Charlotte lead as the Owls fell 12-4.

The Owls will return to action on Tuesday, May 9, visiting the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles in Fort Myers for the third time this season..

Jahsheem Benjamin is a staff writer at the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @JBenzzofficial