March 20, 2004
BOILING SPRINGS, NC - No. 14 Florida Atlantic University's baseball team, ranked no. 14 nationally, split a doubleheader with Gardner-Webb University on Saturday, falling in the first game 4-1 and returning to the field for a 12-6 victory in the second game of the day. The victory improves FAU's record to 21-4 while Gardner-Webb falls to 10-13.
Junior, Jeff Fiorentino, who was 4-for-4 in the second game, ignited a 14-hit performance for FAU for the come from behind victory and to prevent the Bulldogs from sweeping the series.
In game one, FAU starting pitcher Matt O'Brien (6-1) threw only five pitches to get out of the first inning, however the senior struggled in the second when he gave up a one out two-run homer to GWU second baseman Matt Bridges.
O'Brien's counterpart Jeff Long faced one over the minimum through the first four innings before he allowed a two-out walk to right fielder Anthony Albano (Chicago, IL). Albano was driven in by a triple to right center field by sophomore shortstop Alex Fonseca (Tallahassee, FL). Fonseca finished the game with a 2-for-2 effort and FAU's only RBI in game one.
Long (3-3) pitched a complete seven inning game and allowed only one run on four hits and retired eight via the strikeout.
Following a bases loaded FAU threat in the sixth, the Bulldogs padded their lead with their second two-run homer of the game, this one by Billy McCarson.
Matt O'Brien finished the afternoon throwing a complete game but allowed four runs on four hits and struck out three.
In game two of the doubleheader, FAU took its first lead of the series on a Jeff Fiorentino (Hollywood, FL) home run to center field, his fifth of the season. But GWU quickly bounced back to reclaim a 5-1 lead on FAU starting pitcher Mike Crotta (4-1). Gardner-Webb collected seven hits in the first inning. Crotta then settled to retire the next five batters. An error allowed Blake Lalli to reach first and he latter touched home on a double by Nathan MacDonald for a 6-1 advantage.
FAU found its offense in the fourth and tied the game at six. With one out, Fonseca singled and scored on Robbie Widlansky's double. The squad put together a five-run two-out rally to even the score. FAU had four straight hits in the rally including two doubles by Fiorention and Rob Horst.
Another two out rally ensued in the fifth inning as Florida Atlantic retook the lead. Robbie Widlansky drew a walk and advanced to third on a Justin Martin single before Derek Hutton tripled to record his 22nd RBI of the season.
Rusty Brown returned to the line up at first. The senior preseason Third Team All-American hit a three-run home run to center field off of GWU relief pitcher Matt Taffazoli.
Brandon Martin suffered his first loss of the season after he worked one inning and allowed two runs on one hit.
FAU meets Ohio State on Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 pm before hosting Jacksonville University on Friday and Saturday in A-Sun action.