March 16, 2013
Boca Raton, FL - Senior catcher Mike Spano's walk-off single scored junior pinch runner Geoff Jimenez to cap a dramatic three-run ninth-inning rally as the Florida Atlantic University baseball team defeated FIU 6-5 on Saturday, March 16 at the FAU Baseball Stadium. The Owls have won the first two games in the Sun Belt Conference opening weekend series.
FAU came back from a 5-3 deficit to tie the game on a single to left-center field by senior first baseman Mark Nelson that scored freshman designated hitter Brendon Sanger and senior outfielder Nathan Pittman.
Then, with two outs, Spano lined a base hit up the middle that allowed Jimenez, a pinch runner, to score by successfully sliding around the tag by FIU catcher Aramis Garcia.
The victory gave the Owls (13-7 overall, 2-0 in SBC) their seventh straight victory over the Panthers (10-10, 0-2) and clinched the series.
FIU broke a 3-3 tie on Oscar Aguirre's two-out, two-run single that scored Garcia and Nathan Burns in the top of the eighth inning. And, the visitors enjoyed a 2-0 lead after a two-run home run by Burns in the fourth inning. The lead grew to 3-0 an inning later after a RBI single by Zach Sweety.
But FAU had an answer for both FIU leads, getting a three-run fifth inning to tie the contest. Pittman's single up the middle plated sophomore shortstop Mitch Morales and Sanger. Later, Spano drew a bases-loaded walk that scored junior second baseman Sean Murrell with the tying run.
Then, Spano had a key role in the second comeback with his second walk-off base hit of the season.
Senior reliever Michael Sylvestri picked up his third win of the season, allowing two unearned runs in four innings. The right hander improved to 3-0 and recorded five strikeouts. Senior starting pitcher Jake Meiers had three strikeouts and allowed three runs in five innings.
Spano, a 2012 second team All-SBC player, led FAU's 12-hit offensive attack with a 3-for-4 performance and two RBI. Senior outfielder Corey Keller and Pittman each added two hits in the victory, while Sanger scored two runs.
FIU's reliever Mitchell Davis suffered the loss, falling to 3-1 on the season. The right hander allowed three runs in 1.2 innings. Junior left-handed starter Ty Sullivan had a strong showing, allowing two earned runs in seven innings on the mound.
Sweety went 3-for-5 with a run batted in, while Burns scored two runs and had the home run - the first against the FAU pitching staff since February 20 -- to lead the Panthers' 10-hit attack.
Florida Atlantic goes for the sweep when the teams conclude the series on Sunday, March 17 at 1 p.m. Live audio and statistics of the game will be available at www.fausports.com. Single-game tickets are available by contacting the FAU Ticket Office at 1-866-FAU-OWLS.