BOCA RATON, Fla. – Jo-El Bennett hit a game-tying homer off the bench in the fifth and Trae Santos belted his third home run of the weekend – a three-run shot – in the sixth to lead Troy past Florida Atlantic 5-3 in the rubber game of the Sun Belt Conference series Sunday.
Troy’s (32-12, 13-8 Sun Belt) series victory was the first by a Sun Belt team at FAU Stadium this season and was the Trojans’ eighth win in their last nine games.
Garrett Pitts drew a two-out walk to keep the top of the fifth inning alive. Troy head coach Bobby Pierce went to his bench and called upon Bennett to pinch hit for Ali Knowles. The sophomore took a 2-1 fastball from Bo Logan deep over the wall in left field to tie the game at 2-2.
Michael Sylvestri took over for Logan in the sixth and Tyler Vaughn battled back from a 0-2 count to work a 10-pitch walk to open the inning. Following an out that moved Vaughn to second, Sylvestri intentionally walked Danny Collins to face Santos.
Santos, who hit two home runs in Friday’s contest, clobbered an 0-2 fastball from Sylvestri for his Sun Belt leading 13th home run of the season and a 5-2 Troy lead.
Nate Hill (3-2) took over on the mound for Troy in the fifth after starter Ryan Sorce began to suffer from heat cramps. Hill struck out seven Owl batters, including the side in the ninth, over the final 4.1 innings of the game to pick up the win.
Florida Atlantic (27-17, 12-9) took the lead in the second inning on a single to right field by Ricky Santiago and a bunt single by Sean Murrell. The Owls closed the gap to the final two-run margin with a sac fly in the eighth following an error that prolonged the inning.
Sorce struck out three and scattered seven hits of his 4.2 innings of work. Troy used just four pitchers during the weekend series and held the Owls to a .198 team batting average.
The Owls made a late change to their starting pitcher for the finale with Kyle Miller getting the call. The right-hander worked a clean first inning before handing the ball over to the left-handed Logan in the second. Sylvestri (3-2) was charged with the loss after he allowed three runs on a hit and three walks in a third of an inning.
The Trojans will take the mid-week off for final exams before hosting FIU in a three-game Sun Belt series next weekend. Troy has won 13 straight home games which is the longest active streak in the country.
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