May 26, 2013
LAFAYETTE, La. - Florida Atlantic University won its first Sun Belt Conference Tournament in convincing fashion with a 16-8 win over Louisiana-Lafayette in Sunday's Championship Game.
FAU (39-20) went undefeated in the tournament, winning all four of its games. By virtue of their tournament victory, the Owls will receive the Sun Belt's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Owls got off to a fast start in the top of the first inning, scoring two runs on a triple by Mark Nelson, a Tyler Rocklein double and a Brendon Sanger single. ULL (41-18) answered with a run of its own in the bottom of the inning to cut the lead in half.
FAU broke the game open with a nine run second inning. Levi Meyer started the inning with a double and advanced to third on an error by the ULL center fielder. After Ricky Santiago was hit by a pitch, Mitch Morales' bunt single drove in Meyer for the first run of the inning. Geoff Jimenez loaded the bases on an infield single, followed by a Nelson RBI single. Rocklein doubled to left, scoring Morales and Jimenez. Tournament Most Outstanding Player Brendon Sanger then roped a double, driving in two more runs. He eventually scored on a ULL throwing error to make the score 9-1. Santiago ended the scoring for the inning with a two-run homer just inside the foul pole in right.
Nelson's third hit of the game drove in Nathan Pittman to put the Owls ahead 12-1 in the third inning. A Rocklein sacrifice fly later in the frame scored Jimenez. A Morales double scored Santiago to make to score 14-2 in the top of the fourth. The Ragin' Cajuns threatened to make a game of it in the bottom of the fourth when they scored twice, and loaded the bases, but a potential grand slam fell just short of the wall.
In the seventh inning, Pittman had an RBI triple and later scored to wrap up the scoring for the Owls. ULL hit a homerun and had a single in the bottom of the eighth before lightning caused the game to be delayed for nearly two hours. When play resumed, Alex Koji was able to get out of the inning with no more runs scoring.
Kevin Alexander came in to pitch the ninth and despite allowing a run, he was able to close out the game and secure the Owls' first ever Sun Belt Tournament title.
The Owls will find who and where they will be playing during the NCAA Selection Show, airing on ESPNU at noon on Monday. The team will watch the special at a watch party at Duffy's of Boca Raton. The event begins at 11:45 a.m. and is open to the public.