BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – The Florida Atlantic University baseball team clinched a berth in the 2017 Conference USA Championships as Owls’ pitching combined to strike out 13 WKU Hilltoppers, making an early lead stand up in a 5-3 Saturday afternoon win.
The Turning Point
The Owls (30-17-1, 16-10 Conference USA) quickly got on the board behind a two-out, two-run home run by David Miranda in the first, and added two more in the third. Four straight hits chased WKU starter Paul Kirkpatrick, including an RBI double by Jared Shouppe and run-scoring single from Miranda.
Blake Sanderson (2-0) struck out a career-best seven and the bullpen held the lead to give him the victory. The trio of Kyle Marman, Weston Clemente and Drew Peden combined for four innings of four-hit, one-run baseball, with each of the three striking out a pair of WKU (15-36, 5-21 C-USA) hitters. The Owls also got some insurance in the seventh, on Tyler Frank’s 10th home run of the season.
- Miranda went 4-for-4 (two singles, a double and the home run) with three of the team’s five RBI
- He and the three batters ahead of him, FAU’s 1-4, had 10 of the team’s 12 hits
- Frank was 2-for-3, adding a double and also reaching on a walk, while scoring three times
- Shouppe and Esteban Puerta each added two hits
- Catcher Kevin Abraham had 15 putouts, including a fantastic diving catch of a bunt attempt hit behind him in the fifth
- Peden earned the first save of his Owls career
“Good team win, after a few games that didn't go our way, it is always good to get back in the win column,” said Head Coach John McCormack. “We pitched well and got hits when we needed it. Good game to build momentum for tomorrow.”
The rubber matchup takes place on Sunday, a noon CST start from Nick Denes Field. Jake Miednik starts for FAU, with WKU’s first pitcher of the day still TBA.