March 29, 2013
Boca Raton, FL - The Florida Atlantic University baseball team moved closer to the lead in the Sun Belt Conference after a 6-3 victory over No. 24-ranked University of South Alabama on Friday, March 29 to open a key weekend series at the FAU Baseball Stadium. The Owls have matched their season high with a four-game winning streak and beat a nationally ranked team for the second time this spring.
FAU (17-9 overall, 5-2 Sun Belt) answered a three-run first inning by South Alabama (22-5, 5-2) with a two-run home run by junior outfielder Tyler Rocklein in the bottom of the inning. The homer was Rocklein’s fifth of the season, tying for the team lead.
“The big part of the game was the answer in the first inning,” said John McCormack, Florida Atlantic’s head baseball coach. “We answered with two runs in the first and then got two more the next inning.”
Junior catcher Levi Meyer tied the game in the second inning on a RBI single through the left side of the infield that scored sophomore shortstop Mitch Morales. The next batter, senior first baseman Mark Nelson, then brought home senior outfielder Nathan Pittman with a base hit to give the hosts a 4-3 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
The score would hold up until the sixth inning when the Owls scored two unearned runs. Morales’ RBI groundout scored sophomore third baseman Ricky Santiago to give the team a 5-3 advantage. Later in the inning, Pittman hit a slow roller up the middle to bring home freshman outfielder Brendon Sanger.
“The two biggest at bats of the game were by Morales and Pittman in the sixth,” said McCormack. “Nathan’s at bat was outstanding. I told him that last year he wouldn’t have had that at-bat. He stuck in the box and was able to put the ball in play to score more runs for Austin, who pitched a good ballgame.”
Sophomore left hander Austin Gomber struck out six batters and scattered nine hits over seven innings to post his third victory (3-1) of the season. Junior reliever Kevin Alexander tossed a scoreless eighth inning and senior closer Hugh Adams recorded his seventh save of the season with a perfect ninth inning.
Offensively, eight of the nine starting players had a hit over the course of the SBC victory. Pittman led the team with three hits, while Santiago and Morales each added two hits in FAU’s 12-hit attack.
South Alabama’s Nick Zaharion hit a three-run home run to give the visitors a 3-0 first-inning advantage. Bud Collura, Whitt Dorsey and Drew Cofield each had two hits for the Jaguars.
Starting pitcher Brandon Boyle suffered the loss, falling to 1-2 on the season. The right hander allowed four earned runs across five innings.
FAU returns to the diamond for the second game in the series on Saturday, March 30 at 4 p.m. The team, the defending SBC regular-season champions, is seeking its third straight league series triumph to open the conference schedule. Live audio and statistics of the game will be available at www.fausports.com.
Single-game tickets for all home games are available by contacting the FAU Ticket Office at 1-866-FAU-OWLS.