Eighth Inning Rally Pushes Owls Past Wildcats
By: Michael Demyan
The Florida Atlantic University Owls’ five-run rally in their final at-bat Tuesday night gave them a 9-6 win against the visiting Bethune-Cookman Wildcats.
The Owls jumped onto the scoreboard in the bottom of the first inning with three runs off of the Wildcat’s starting pitcher Marcellus Sneed. Sneed was struggling with his command and walked the first two batters he faced before Esteban Puerta loaded the bases with a base hit.
David Miranda drew the team’s third walk in four plate appearances to force home a run, which ended Sneed’s night on the mound. With two outs in the inning, Austin Langham brought home two more with a single to right field.
The Wildcats began to chip away at the lead in the third inning after shortstop Demetrius Sims singled with one out. With two runners in scoring position, Jameel Edney hit an RBI single and Danny Rodriguez followed with a run scoring double to bring them within a run.
The Wildcats carried that momentum into the fourth inning with a leadoff walk and two hits which tied the game at three.
Command problems continued for the Wildcats in the bottom of the fourth as the first two FAU batters reached on walks. Eric Rivera advanced the runners on a sacrifice bunt, which set up an RBI single from Tyler Frank to put the Owls back on top 4-3.
FAU held that lead until the Wildcats tied the game in the top of the eighth, but their bullpen faltered in the bottom half as the Owls scored five runs. The first two came from the second and third bases loaded walks of the game allowed by the Wildcats. The third came on a balk from pitcher Danny Melgarejo, before Stephen Kerr drove in the final two runs.
The game was far from over though as the Wildcats made one last push in the top of the ninth. Down 9-4, designated hitter Trent Nash hit a two-run double to bring them back within three.
A base hit and a walk then loaded the bases with two outs. The tying run was on first while the winning run was at the plate, but closer Cameron Ragsdale came in to stop the rally and record his seventh save of the season.
“Tuesday night after an emotional series and with Monday being our day off, I didn’t think we were ready to play,” head coach John McCormack said. “The game was loaded with mistakes and we’re just going to have to put it behind us, have a good practice and get ready to go to Charlotte. The only saving grace was that we won.”
The win improved the Owls’ season record to 19-8-1 (7-2, C-USA) and they are now tied for second in the C-USA standings with Old Dominion.