Owls Soar Past Hawks in Baseball Season Opener
By: Michael Demyan
The Florida Atlantic University Owls started their season with a strong offensive night as they easily beat the Monmouth University Hawks 16-5 Friday night at FAU Baseball Stadium.
The Owls were coming off a hot 2016 season in which they had the best record in the Conference USA standings.
Starting pitcher Alex House set the tone early for FAU by striking out the first three batters in the top half of the first. The Owls then put on the pressure offensively with a leadoff single from Tyler Frank. After a hit batter and passed ball, they already had two runners in scoring position.
An error by the Hawks’ center fielder Tom Jakubowski allowed Frank to score the team’s first run of the night. They added two more in the inning thanks to a safety squeeze from shortstop Stephen Kerr and a single from Kevin Abraham. It was the first plate appearance for Abraham since missing all of last season.
House retired the next four batters in the second and third innings before the Hawks’ catcher Ryan Bailey connected for a home run. They scored once more to bring them back to within one by the middle of the third.
House found his rhythm again in the fourth however and the Owls tacked on four more runs which brought the score to 7-2. That would be the last inning for the Hawk’s starting pitcher Ricky Dennis. Even though he allowed seven runs, only three of them were earned.
The Owls continued swinging the bat well in the fifth as Austin Langham brought in two more with a home run to left field, but things got a little scary for FAU in the sixth inning. After increasing their lead to 12-2, Abraham was hit in the face by a pitch and instantly fell to the ground. He was helped off the field and ultimately left for X-rays after spending some time on the bench.
“It breaks my heart,” FAU coach John McCormack said. “I hope that it’s nothing more than just a little facial laceration and maybe a bad bruise and we move on.”
The Owls continued to push forward after the injury however and scored four more runs in the bottom of the seventh, increasing their lead to 16-2. Three of them came off of a home run from Esteban Puerta, which was followed by David Miranda scoring their final run of the night on a wild pitch.
The Hawks made a little noise in the final two innings, bringing the score to 16-5, but they did not come close as the Owls took the victory. It was the first win for House, who pitched six quality innings. Jordan Poore, Weston Clemente and Blake Sanderson each pitched an inning after not playing at all last season to close out the game.
“I’m happy for the guys,” McCormack said. “The really good thing about it is we had some young guys get to play, we had some guys that hadn’t pitched before…get in the game.”
Offensive numbers were strong for the Owls as three players had multiple RBIs including five for Puerta. Jared Shouppe also scored four runs, just one short of tying FAU’s single-game record.
The game was the first of a three-game homestand which concludes on Sunday, Feb. 19.