Boca Raton, FL - Seven shutout innings by senior right-hander Ryan Garton, timely hitting and key defensive plays led the Florida Atlantic University baseball team to a 2-0 win over Manhattan College in the home opener at the FAU Baseball Stadium in Boca Raton.
The victory improves the Owls to 4-0 on the season. This marks the first time since 2007 that FAU has won its first four games. Both teams will resume this weekend’s four-game weekend series with a doubleheader on Saturday, February 25, starting at 1 p.m.
Florida Atlantic has not trailed in any of its four games this season.
“Ryan got us going with a strong pitching performance and we manufactured some runs to win a hard-fought game over a team that played in last year’s NCAA regionals,” said John McCormack, FAU’s head baseball coach. “We have a lot of arms to use in our bullpen. It is always nice to win in front of our home fans.”
Garton, the reigning Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Week, struck out eight batters and allowed five hits in seven quality innings to earn his second straight victory as the Owls’ No. 1 starting pitcher. He scattered three hits and recorded seven strikeouts in last week’s season opener at the University of Alabama.
“It feels good to always go the mound knowing that you are not trailing in the game,” said Garton. “I was able to mix up my pitches tonight and I got stronger as the game went along.”
The hosts took a 2-0 lead in the seventh inning on Morales’ sacrifice fly to right field, which plated junior catcher Mike Spano.
A key defensive play by preseason all-conference outfielder Alex Hudak kept Manhattan off the scoreboard in the top of the third inning. Designated hitter Andrew Gorecki opened the frame with a double and threatened to score following Nick Camastro’s fly out to right field. Hudak made a perfect throw to catcher Mike Spano, who tagged Gorecki for the inning-ending double play.
Then, Garton got out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the seventh inning with a strikeout of Chris Kalousdian.
And, junior reliever R.J. Alvarez shut the door on another Manhattan rally in the eighth inning when the visitors put runners on first and second base. The right hander struck out Ramon Ortega to end the scoring threat.
Junior right hander Michael Sylvestri recorded his second save of the season with a perfect ninth inning.
Manhattan starting pitcher John Soldinger suffered the loss, allowing the two runs and recording seven strikeouts.
Saturday’s game will feature former FAU Head Coach Kevin Cooney, who was inducted into the 2011 Athletic Hall of Fame on February 24. He will throw out the first pitch for the first game of the double-header. Cooney, the Owls’ coach from 1988-2008, recorded 750 wins in his FAU career and led the program to seven NCAA regionals.
McCormack will also be honored on Saturday for recording his 100th coaching victory last Friday at Alabama.
Live audio of the games can be found at www.fausports.com. For season tickets contact the FAU Ticket Office at 1-866-FAU-OWLS.