June 1, 2013
BOCA RATON, FL - Florida Atlantic University's baseball team, ranked No. 23 nationally by Baseball America, used the strong arm Austin Gomber, who moved to 8-4 on the season, and the hot bats of seniors Nathan Pittman and Corey Keller to defeat Canisius 14-6 in Saturday's elimination game of the Chapel Hill NCAA Tournament. The victory improved FAU's record to 40-21 on the season, the fourth time in 10 seasons and the first under the direction of Head Coach John McCormack that the Owls have posted at least 40 wins.
FAU, the visiting team, saw Pittman draw a lead-off walk to open the game. Mark Nelson hit a single to right which moved the speedy Pittman to third allowing him to score on the next play, a RBI fielder's choice by Tyler Rocklein.
Gomber pitched the first of his five scoreless innings in the bottom half of the first and saw the Owls score three in the top of the second to build a needed cushion. With two outs Ricky Santiago hit a single to left. Shortstop Mitch Morales followed with a bunt single down the third base line that was missed played allowing Santiago to advance to third. With runners on first and third and two outs Pittman belted his fifth homer of the year to put FAU up 4-0.
Gomber returned to the hill but gave up a double and a single which gave Canisius three outs to score two.
The Owls began the third with three-consecutive walks. A wild pitch scored one, before Corey Keller belted his sixth homer of the season and first of two on the day, to energize the Owls and take an 8-2 lead.
FAU continued to add pressure scoring one in the fourth, once again set-up by Pittman, who was 3-for-3 on the day, with a double, a homer four RBI and five runs scored. He scored on a sac fly by fellow senior Mark Nelson. The Pittman Nelson duo would manufacture a run in the sixth as well. Pittman lead-off with a single. He stole second and scored on a Nelson RBI single to right. Pittman was credited with the RBI in the seventh by plating Keller on a bases loaded walk.
Gomber started a double play which saw Canisius add a run in the bottom of the seventh. He got out of the inning without further damage and returned for the eighth. Gomber walked the first and saw a missed double play opportunity put runners on first and third. Canisius would score one on a ground out. Gomber was relieved by Gregg Benniswith two outs in the eighth and a runner, who later scored, on a single. Gomber's day of work included 7.2 innings, five runs, three of which were earned, one walk and two strikeouts.
Bennis would get out of the inning and would be relieved in the ninth by Jimmy Tornabene.
Offensively, Pittman led the Owls. Keller, who belted two homers on the day, was 2-for-5 with four RBI while Santiago was 3-for-4 and Nelson, who added two RBI was 2-for-3.
FAU will play Towson 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon. The game will air on ESPN3 and live audio will air on www.fausports.com. The winner will face North Carolina at 6 p.m.