Boca Raton, FL - Two rain delays could not slow down the Florida Atlantic University baseball team as it rallied past Arkansas State University 6-2 on Sunday at the FAU Baseball Stadium in Boca Raton. The game was only contest completed in the rain-shortened Sun Belt Conference series.
The Owls improve to 25-14 on the season and continue to lead the SBC with a 13-3 league mark. FAU and Arkansas State entered the weekend separated by two games atop the conference standings. Weather postponed games Friday and Saturday. Then, Sunday's game was delayed twice for a total of two hours and five minutes by rain.
"It is easy for the home team to lose focus in a game like this with weather delays," said John McCormack, FAU's head baseball coach. "We stayed in the moment, got some timely hits and got an important victory."
The Owls trailed 2-1 in the sixth inning before three errors by the Red Wolves allowed five runs to score in the bottom half of the frame. Junior first baseman Mark Nelson gave FAU a 3-2 lead with a bases-loaded, two-run single that scored senior infielder Mike Albaladejo and junior outfielder Nathan Pittman.
"We just wanted to come out and score early after the second rain delay in case more rain came," said Nelson. "I was looking for a pitch to drive and luckily it found a gap to score a couple of runs."
Later in the inning, a base hit by junior catcher Mike Spano brought in Nelson and senior outfielder Alex Hudak to give the host a 5-2 advantage. Sophomore outfielder Geoff Jimenez rounded out the big inning by scoring when Albaladejo was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Junior reliever R.J. Alvarez picked up the win, improving to 4-0 on the season, after throwing two scoreless innings. The right hander struck out two batters and lowered his earned run average to 0.61 for the season.
Senior starting pitcher Ryan Garton allowing one earned run, and struck out five hitters, before being replaced by Alvarez after the second rain delay. Senior Ahmed Garcia tossed the last two innings to secure the win.
FAU picked up the victory despite recording five hits in the contest. Spano recorded two hits to increase the team's active longest hitting streak to six games. Nelson also slapped two hits in the victory. Albaladejo rounded out the offensive attack for the Owls going 1-for-3 with an RBI.
Arkansas State (21-18, 10-6 Sun Belt) was led by Collin Massanelli's two hits. Dustin Jones hit a lead-off home run in the fifth inning to give the Red Wolves a 2-1 lead. John Koch suffered the loss, falling to 0-1 on the season after allowing five runs in the sixth inning.
FAU returns to the diamond on Tuesday, April 24, at 6:30 p.m. when it battles nationally ranked University of Miami in Coral Gables. The game will conclude the three-game season series with the Hurricanes. Live audio and statistics can be found at www.fausports.com.
For tickets of any home game, contact the FAU Ticket Office at 1-866-FAU-OWLS.