LAFAYETTE, La. - Fourth-seeded Florida Atlantic held onto defeat fifth-seeded WKU, 5-4, in game one of the 2013 Sun Belt Conference Baseball Tournament held at M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field in Lafayette, La despite a brief delay from inclement weather.
FAU moves onto Thursday's winner’s bracket and will face the winner of game two of the tournament between top-seeded Troy and eighth-seeded Arkansas State at 4:00 p.m. CT. The Owls have now won eight consecutive games.
The Owls (36-20) struck first in the bottom of the first inning plating four runs in the inning. FAU's Nathan Pittman, the leadoff hitter, reached first on a fielding error by WKU's Steve Hodgins. Levi Meyer of FAU then singled, advancing Pittman to second. A wild pitch moved Pittman to third and Meyer to second. Mark Nelson was then walked. Tyler Rocklein flied out to right field scoring Pittman on the sac-fly. Brendon Sanger then tripled to right center scoring both Meyer and Nelson. Corey Keller flew out to center scoring Sanger from third for the fourth and final run of the inning.
“I feel really comfortable at the plate right now. I’ve been seeing a lot of pitches and seeing them well,” said Sanger, a freshman from Fort Myers, Fla. “We’re on a roll right now and I hope we can keep it going and do big things at this tournament. We are pitching well, fielding well and really hitting the ball.
FAU would add another run in the bottom of the third as Meyer would score on a Keller double to left field.
FAU's Austin Gomber earned the win for the Owls and had no setbacks from the weather delay in the third inning. Gomber pitched 7.1 innings allowing six hits and three runs while striking out seven.
WKU (28-28) threatened in the eighth-inning scoring four runs, three on a home run by senior Ryan Huck. Hodgins opened the inning with a shot to right field that just stayed inside of the foul pole to cut FAU's lead to four. Gomber then walked Trevor Lowe and then struck out Thomas Peter. Scott Wilcox would single through the right side giving the Toppers first and second with one out. Kevin Alexander replaced Gomber for the Owls to face Ryan Huck who had struck out in the previous two at-bats. Huck took the first two pitches he was shown, both for strikes, but fouled-off a few other pitches before blasting a three-run homer over the center-field wall to trim the Owl lead to one. Alexander would retire the next two Topper batters to end the threat in the eighth.
FAU's Hugh Adams came on in relief in the top of the ninth to close out the game and earn his 16th save of the season.
With the loss, WKU will now face the loser of game two between the Trojans and Red Wolves. That game will take place on Thursday, May 23 at 9:00 a.m. CT.