May 31, 2002
Several career-highs were set in the first round of the NCAA Regionals as Florida Atlantic defeated Auburn 16-11 in Tuscaloosa, AL. FAU had a season-high five home runs and collected 30 hits in the contest. L.J. Biernbaum had a career-high five hits in a 5-for-5 outing and Gabe Somarriba reached new levels as he hit his first grand slam and posted six RBI. Florida Atlantic improves to 44-18, while Auburn falls to 34-25.
FAU tied its largest out put in an inning with a 10-run barrage in the first off of three Tiger pitchers. The first six batters reached base and FAU scored their first three runs on a Mike Cox home run, his 18th of the season. Four more came when Gabe Somarriba hit his eighth homer as he drove in four with his first career grand slam.
The team would be blanked in the next two innings but saw Auburn post a comeback and tie it at 10 in the third. FAU starting pitcher Travis NeSmith allowed a three-run homer to Bobby Huddleston in the first and gave up a grand slam in the second to Sean Gamble, also the first of his career.
NeSmith was relieved in the third to give way to Nelson Lopez. Lopez pitched 1 2/3 innings and allow four hits and three unearned runs. But the Florida Atlantic offense continued to produce runs as Biernbaum and Brown would hit back-to-back homers, FAU's fifth pair of the year. Biernbaum, a senior from Newton, PA hit his 14th homer in his next at bat in the sixth.
Tom MacLane entered in the top of the fourth to pitch the best game of his career. "I can't say
enough about how well he pitched," said coach Kevin Cooney. "I was looking for someone to
come out of the bullpen and step up and MacLane came through."
With the win he improves to 4-2 . He worked six innings, struck out two and allowed one run on four hits.
Luckily FAU's power allowed them to keep the ball out of the infield as several players were robbed of base hits by the excellent defensive play by Auburn's second baseman, Tug Hulett, and shortstop, Chuck Jeroloman. They allowed the Tigers' pitching staff to retire the order in the third and fifth innings.
Gabe Somarriba would conclude the offensive show in the seventh after a double scored two to give him six RBI in the contest.
Auburn will play on Saturday at 12 pm against the loser of the Alabama, Southeast Missouri State match up. FAU will face the winner of that game at 4 pm. The winner of the early game will face the loser in game two at 8 pm in the night cap.
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