Jeff Fiorentino hit a two-run homer and had the game winning hit in a 6-5 win over Alabama
June 2, 2002
For the first time in school history the Florida Atlantic University baseball team (46-19) advances to the NCAA Super Regionals after defeating the national No. 3 seed Alabama (51-15) in the ninth inning 6-5 at the NCAA Regionals in Tuscaloosa, AL. An RBI single by Jeff Fiorentino allowed Derek Hutton to score the winning run in the ninth of game two to give FAU their 23rd come-from-behind victory this season.
In the double elimination tournament, FAU entered Sunday's games undefeated. Therefore, Alabama needed to win two in order to clench the tournament. Alabama overtook FAU in game one to force a deciding second game. Florida Atlantic would never lead in the game. Their only runs would come on Rusty Brown and L.J. Biernbaum home runs. Both players hit homers in the first three games of the tournament. Alabama won the contest 7-2
Danny Core made his first appearance in the regional to pitch a complete game but he took the loss (8-5) as he gave up seven runs on 11 hits. The junior struck out four, all coming in the first two innings.
Four seniors made big plays to extend their college careers as they came up big in game two. Biernbaum, who was named the MVP of the Regional, posted the first two runs of the game when he singled to center to score seniors Gabe Somarriba and Bobby Spano from second and thrid.
After the Crimson Tide got an unearned run in the third, they tied the game in the fourth with Nelson Lopez's only pitching error of the day as he gave up a solo home run to designated hitter, Beau Hearod. Lopez pitched 5 2/3 innings and allowed four runs.
Florida Atlantic looked to take control of the game over a sluggish Alabama team when Jeff Fiorentino hit his 11th home run of the season to put FAU up 4-2. But the comeback kids from FAU had to make things interesting in the sixth innning. After recording the first two outs of the inning, Lopez walked two. Head coach, Kevin Cooney brought in Greg Eubanks in relief. Eubanks gave up a three run homer top Hearod to give Alabama a 5-4 lead and give Hearod four RBI on the day.
All of Alabama's runs were scored with two outs.
After Biernbaum reached on a single in the eighth with one out and Jeremiah Creech, who was inserted into the lineup at first for an injured Rusty Brown reached on an error, FAU had a runner in scoring position. A pitching change by the Tide brought in Mike Valdes to pinch hit. Valdes, also a senior, doubled down the right field line to tie the game.
Florida Atlantic thought they took the lead as Shaen O'Coonor hit a looper into left field with Creech at third. The outfielder dove to make the catch as Creech tagged and made his way for home. Alabama appealed the call and threw to third as the umpire called Creech out for leaving early.
Jim Cooney entered in relief in the fifth and gave way to Tim McNab in the eighth with one out. McNab, a senior from Cooper City, FL, got the first batter he faced to fly out before striking out the next hitter to give FAU a chance to win in the ninth
Two freshman were instrumental in the win as Derek Hutton led off the inning with a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. After Gabe Somarriba flied out to center, freshman, Jeff Fiorentino came to the plate with two out and a runner at second. Fiorentino laced a shot through the right side to allow Hutton to score and give FAU a one run lead.
Tim McNab (3-2) recorded the win after he struck out two, allowed a base hit, and got third baseman, Allen Rice to ground out to short to end the game and give FAU their first NCAA Regional win, 6-5.
FAU will travel to Georgia Tech to play a three-game series in the NCAA Super Regionals next weekend.