May 21, 2003
No. 12 Florida Atlantic University missed multiple scoring opportunities as it left 10 on base and six in scoring position as it fell to Jacksonville University (29-27) 4-3 in the first round of the Atlantic Sun Tournament in DeLand, FL. FAU gave up four runs in the first three innings before battling back in the sixth and seventh.
FAU starting pitcher Chris Saxton made his fourth start of the season and gave up five hits in the first three innings. Two straight singles to start off the second and third innings put the FAU defense in a tight situation. Two defense errors in the innings allowed two JU runs to score. Right fielder Chris Kelly picked up a game-high two RBIs in the third with a single up the middle to score the A-Sun Freshman-of-the-Year Gordie Gronkowski and outfielder Clint Hart to take the 4-0 lead.
Right-hander Dennis Robinson did not allow an FAU batter to reach base until the third inning when Mike Cox reached on a lead off single. Derek Hutton followed with a single to the shortstop. The offense would not be able to capitalize on the opportunity as a caught foul ball, a fielder's choice and a fly ball to right field ended the FAU threat.
In the fifth, FAU (44-13) put men on first and third with no one out. JU's Robinson continued his mastery of the FAU offense as the runners remained stranded.
Finally in the sixth inning FAU posted two runs on the board after doubles by A-Sun First Teamers Jeff Fiorentino and Rusty Brown. An error by the Dolphin right fielder extended the inning and Shaen O'Connor picked up an RBI on a fielder's choice for the second run.
Three walks in the seventh inning and a Jeff Fiorentino single off of Dolphins' reliever Josh Deel gave FAU its final run of the game as FAU fell in the first round to the no. 6 seed in the tournament. In four meeting this season with Jacksonville, the two teams have played four one-run games with FAU coming out on top twice.
"Jacksonville is one of the strongest six seeds in the tournament in a while," said head coach Kevin Cooney. "We started poorly and Saxton left his slider in the zone to put some guys on base. We tried to come back but JU had some good relief pitching."
Saxton falls to 4-4 after his second longest outing of the season, 6 2/3 innings, and gave up eight hits, two earned runs and struck out six. His counterpart, Robinson improves to 5-7 after 5 1/3 innings.
Matt O'Brien came out of the pen and threw 2 1/3 innings of hitless baseball and struck out two.
Florida Atlantic will play on again on Thursday at 11 am in the six-team double-elimination tournament. The opponent will be determined Tuesday night when no. 2 Stetson takes on no. 5 Gardner-Webb at 7 pm.
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