Boca Raton, FL - Pushing across six runs in its final two at-bats, the Florida Atlantic University baseball team improved to 6-1 on the season with a 7-3 victory over Manhattan College in Sunday's weekend series wrap up at the FAU Baseball Stadium in Boca Raton. The Owls captured the series by winning three of the four games against the Jaspers, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference defending champions and a NCAA regional qualifier last season.
"We need to be ready to play and be better offensively early in games," said John McCormack, FAU's head baseball coach. "Manhattan is a good ball club that will win many games this season. We had some scoring chances early in the game and just didn't capitalize on those opportunities. We got the victory and being 6-1 is a good way to start the season."
Trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, a sacrifice fly to center field by senior catcher Mike Albaladejo scored sophomore infielder Robert Buckley to tie the game. Later in the frame, junior designated hitter Corey Keller snuck a ground ball through the right side of the Manhattan infield to plate junior outfielder Nathan Pittman or the go-ahead run, 3-2.
The Owls would not trail again, scoring four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Junior infielder Kyle Newton led off the inning with his third home run of the season. Albaladejo would drive in his second run of the game with a single to center field scoring junior first baseman Mark Nelson. Pittman would help tally two more runs with a double in the next at-bat.
Manhattan (1-3) didn't go away easily, scoring one run in the top of the ninth inning and having the potential game-tying run at the plate. That's when junior right-handed reliever Michael Sylvestri induced a groundball to end the game.
Senior outfielder Alex Hudak cut an early 2-0 Manhattan lead in half with a blast over the right field fence -- his fourth home run of the season -- to lead off the second inning.
Junior reliever R.J. Alvarez picked up his second win of the season, tossing 2.2 scoreless innings. He struck out four batters and allowed just two singles.
Freshman left hander Austin Gomber struck out four batters over 4.1 innings in his collegiate debut. Senior reliever Ahmed Garcia joined Alvarez and Sylvestri in contributing to the victory from the Owls' quality bullpen.
Albaladejo paced the FAU offensive attack with three hits, marking the fourth time this season he has recorded three or more hits in a game. The senior is now batting a team-best .536 for the season. Nelson also tallied three hits with a run scored. The team pounded out 12 hits in the series-ending victory.
Manhattan was led by Nick Camastro and Ramon Ortega, with both collecting hits. Camastro drove in two runs with a double in the second inning.
The Owls outscored the Jaspers 29-15 in the four-game set which opened the team's home schedule.
FAU returns to the diamond on Wednesday, February 29, at 6 p.m. with a South Florida showdown with nationally ranked University of Miami from Coral Gables. The meeting will be the first of three scheduled games this season between the rivals. The Owls won the season series from the Hurricanes last year, winning the final game at the Hurricanes' home ballpark.
Live audio and statistics of the game can be found at www.fausports.com. For season tickets contact the FAU Ticket Office at 1-866-FAU-OWLS.