Feb. 23, 2011
Boca Raton, Fla. - Strong starting pitching, timely clutch hitting and solid defense were the variables that led the Florida Atlantic University baseball team to a historic 7-4 win over No. 20-ranked University of Miami on Tuesday evening at the FAU Baseball Stadium.
The Owls, 4-1, beat the Hurricanes for the first time in eight games between the two South Florida rivals, and the first time at home since the 2001 season. Miami, four-time national champions, lead the all-time series by a 47-9 margin.
The victory came less than 24 hours after FAU suffering its first loss of the season against top-ranked University of Florida on Tuesday night.
Florida Atlantic wasted little time getting the advantage over the Hurricanes, scoring three first-inning runs. Preseason All-American candidate Andy Mee, a senior outfielder, connected on his second home run of the season with a blast down the right field line. Later, junior outfielder Alex Hudak lined a double to left center field to push across sophomore first baseman Mark Nelson and senior designated hitter Eddie Cassidy.
"The good start helped us because we were able to relax and play our game," said John McCormack, FAU's head baseball coach. "Ryan Garton (starting pitcher) was able to concentrate on throwing strikes and keeping (Miami) off balance."
The Owls added a run in the second inning on a run-scoring single by senior second baseman Raymond Church that scored junior infielder Joey Burkhalter. The hit extended Church's hitting streak to 14 games across two seasons.
The score moved to 5-0 in the fifth inning after two Miami defensive errors allowed Church to come around and score after leading off the inning with a single.
Miami proceeded to cut the deficit in the top of the sixth inning on a three-run home run by designated hitter Rony Rodriguez.
However, the Owls responded with two insurance runs in the eighth inning to build the lead to 7-3. Cassidy connected on his second home run of the season to lead off the frame, and Burkhalter lined a base hit to score freshman pinch runner Geoff Jimenez.
Garton picked up the win with four scoreless innings and three strikeouts. He also successfully navigated two based-loaded situations. Junior relievers Hugh Adams and Paul Davis bridged the gap before all-Sun Belt Conference closer Andy Mee came in to secure the win in the pressure-packed ninth inning. Miami first baseman Brad Feiger made the game's final out with the potential tying runs on base.
Hudak paced the offensive attack with two RBIs and two of FAU's eight hits. Church also had two hits, while Cassidy scored a pair of runs.
Zeke DeVoss, Harold Martinez and David Villasuso each had two hits for Miami, which fell to 2-2 on the season.
The Owls are now 4-0 at the FAU Baseball Stadium this spring. The team will return to its home diamond on Friday, February 25, to begin a three-game weekend series against Stony Brook. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Live audio and statistics of the game can be found at www.fausports.com. For season and individual tickets call the FAU Ticket Office at 1-866-FAU-OWLS.