April 13, 2012
Monroe, LA - The Florida Atlantic University baseball team continued its strong play on the road and in Sun Belt Conference action with a 9-7 victory over the University of Louisiana-Monroe in Friday night's series opener at Warhawk Field in Monroe, La. The 28th-ranked Owls continue to lead the league by two games with an 11-2 conference record.
FAU built a 6-0 lead through the first six innings and enjoyed a 9-2 advantage in the eighth inning, before having to hold off a five-run ULM eighth-inning rally to pick up the team's sixth road SBC victory. Those six road wins are one more than the team had in conference play last season.
Junior third baseman Kyle Newton had three hits and junior first baseman Mark Nelson powered his team-leading sixth home run to drive home three runs, while senior starting pitcher Ryan Garton won his seventh game and junior reliever R.J. Alvarez nailed down his sixth save of the season.
Senior infielder Mike Albaladejo capped a three-run second inning with a two-run single that scored Newton and junior catcher Mike Spano. An inning later, Spano would drive in Nelson with a two-out single. Sophomore outfielder Geoff Jimenez would score off a throwing error from the outfield on the play to give FAU a 5-0 advantage.
Albaladejo drove in his third run of the game with a sacrifice fly that scored Spano, adding another run to the Owls' lead in the sixth inning.
Nelson's three-run blast over the right field fence moved Florida Atlantic on top 9-2 in the top of the eighth inning. The sixth home run of the season tied for the team lead.
ULM (16-18, 4-9 Sun Belt) fought back and brought the tying run to the plate in a five-run eighth frame. Senior reliever Ahmed Garcia got Chris Dudley to fly out to the left field wall to end the rally. Then in the ninth inning, with one out, Jimenez made a diving catch of Judd Edwards' line drive to deep right-center field. The Warhawks had a runner at first base on the play. Alvarez tossed a scoreless ninth inning to seal the victory for Garton, who had eight strikeouts over 5.1 innings.
Besides Newton's three hits, Nelson scored three runs and had three RBIs - the sixth straight game that Nelson has driven in a run. Jimenez also had two hits to round out the Owls' 11-hit offensive attack.
ULM was paced with two hits apiece by Les Aulds, Caleb Clowers and Taylor Abdalla. Cale Wine suffered the loss after allowing six runs in five innings.
The two teams will continue the series on Saturday, April 14, at 7 p.m. Live audio and statistics of the game can be found at www.fausports.com. For tickets contact the FAU Ticket Office at 1-866-FAU-OWLS.