May 14, 2009
BOCA RATON, FL - Needing a series victory to position itself for a postseason tournament berth, Florida Atlantic University won a critical Friday night game over visiting FIU 9-5 . The FAU bats knocked-around one of the Sun Belt's top pitchers and right-hander Mike Gipson turned in his second straight shutout performance in long relief.
FAU seniors William Block and David Wilson each homered and had three hits to pace the Owls' offense. Block reached safely all five times he came to the plate, finishing 3-for-3 with his eighth homer, scored three times and drove in three.
Florida Atlantic (28-23, 11-16 Sun Belt) can assure itself of a spot in the league tournament with two more wins over FIU this weekend. Game Two is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Friday night followed by Game Three Saturday at 1 p.m.
FIU (33-19, 17-11 Sun Belt) will most likely enter the conference tournament as a No. 4 seed regardless of the series' outcome. Lamar Guy hit a solo homerun and Tim Jobe a 2-run double to help the Golden Panthers rally from a 5-2 deficit to tie the game in the middle innings. The Owls scored four first-inning runs off Tom Ebert (6-4) who owned the league's second best ERA (3.25) when play began.
FAU's seniors had 12 of the team's 13 hits and the Owls played error-free baseball for the fourth time in six games.
In relief of starter Adam Morrison (3-2), Gipson appeared in the sixth with FAU leading 7-5 and proceeded to strike out five of the first six FIU batters he faced. Gipson finished with six K's and threw four scoreless innings - almost identical to his numbers last Friday in a winning effort at Arkansas State.
While Gipson was silencing the FIU bats the Owls were piling-on runs. FAU scored in five of the first seven innings. Wilson hit a solo homer in the sixth and Block did the same in the seventh to extend the two-run lead to four. Gipson did the rest, earning his first save of the year in the process.
GAME NOTES: The game featured some outstanding defense... FAU RF Jeremy Griffiths made a terrific running catch of a foul ball down the line in right field in the third inning, tumbling over the fence and into the berm before reappearing with the baseball... FIU middle infielders 2B Ryan Mollica and SS Junior Arrojo combined on a 4-6-3 highlight reel putout on a groundball up the middle, with Mollica fielding and flipping to Arrojo who made a bare-handed catch and throw to get the runner... William Block's homer in the seventh moved him into sole possession of second on FAU's all-time homerun list with 45, needing two to eqaul the school record of 47.