March 18, 2012
Miami, FL - Lead-off batter Geoff Jimenez had three hits and Mark Nelson drove home four runs as the Florida Atlantic University baseball team wrapped up a three-game road sweep to begin Sun Belt Conference play with a 9-3 victory over preseason league co-favorite FIU on Sunday at the FIU Baseball Stadium in Miami. The Owls improve to 14-7 on the season and have won a conference-opening series against their South Florida rival for the second consecutive season.
FAU struck first in the third inning when Nelson, a junior first baseman, lined a base hit to right field bring home Jimenez, a sophomore outfielder. Senior infielder Mike Albaladejo would add a second run in the frame when junior outfielder Corey Keller's ground ball was misplayed by the FIU infield.
FIU (8-10, 0-3 Sun Belt) would get a run back in the bottom of the third inning before FAU answered by adding two more runs in the fourth inning to take a 4-1 lead. Jimenez's double to left field scored junior outfielder Dylan Seigel for the first run. Albaladejo added a hit that push across freshman shortstop Mitch Morales to put the visitors ahead 4-1.
The host Panthers would pull closer after a run-scoring triple by Nathan Burns in the fifth inning.
However, Florida Atlantic once again had an answer for FIU. Nelson's third home run of the series scored three runs and gave FAU a 7-2 lead. Nelson drove in 11 runs during the three-game weekend series.
Junior catcher Mike Spano hit his second home run of the season with a solo shot over the left field fence in the seventh inning, and junior third baseman Kyle Newton drove in Morales to cap the Owls' scoring with a run in the eighth inning.
The productive offense made a winner out of freshman left hander Austin Gomber, who picked up his first career victory. Gomber had a career-best 10 strike outs and allowed three runs in six quality innings.
Nelson paced the offensive attack with four RBIs and went 2-for-5. Jimenez slapped three hits while Newton rounded out the multiple-hit efforts with two hits.
FAU out-hit FIU by an 11-6 margin, and the squad outscored the Panthers 23-9 in the three-game sweep.
FIU starting pitcher R.J. Fondon fell to 3-2 for the season after allowing four runs in four innings. Burns highlighted the Panthers' offensive attack with two hits, one run and a RBI.
Florida Atlantic returns to the diamond on Wednesday, March 21, at 6:30 p.m. when it another Miami team, nationally ranked University of Miami. 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.