FAU players flood out of the dugout to congratulate Levi Meyer after his first home run as an Owl. (OwlAccess.com photo)
FAU sweeps a season-opening doubleheader against Cincinnati but FAU coach John McCormack wasn't completely satisfied with the victories.
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Florida Atlantic baseball coach John McCormack wasn't nearly as pleased with the Owls' season-opening doubleheader sweep of Cincinnati as one might have expected.
The Owls cruised past the Bearcats 9-2 in the opener, but a late rally by Cincinnati combined with quiet FAU bats in the final half of that game combined to make the 7-5 victory a great deal closer than McCormack would have liked.
“We've talked about putting people away. We had an opportunity in the sixth to do it and we had some bad at-bats,” McCormack said “We can't have these letups as the season goes on.”
Prior to those final four innings, McCormack had plenty of reasons to smile. The Owls hit the ball well, pitched even better and made most of the plays in the field.
Austin Gomber cruised though the Bearcats batting order in the opener, paying for only one mistake in six innings of work to earn the win. Jake Meiers, Brandon Rhodes and Bo Logan limited the Bearcats to two runs through eight innings in the second contest – with Meiers picking up the win and Hugh Adams eventually notching his first save.
“In the first inning I was pretty nervous, but when we come in and put up two [runs] right away it kind of turns your nerves off,” said Gomber, who allowed two runs on four hits while striking out six in six innings.
Familiar names and new faces combined to provide plenty of offense for FAU. Returning right fielder Corey Keller went 4-for-5, driving in three runs while newcomer Levi Meyer hit the Owls' first homer of the season, drove in two and scored two more.
FAU only trailed briefly on the day. A third inning Justin Glass solo home run gave Cincinnati a short-lived one run lead in the second game.
The Owls tied the score in the bottom of the third when Geoff Jimenez tripled to lead off the inning and scored on Nathan Pittman's ground out. FAU broke the game open with five runs in the fourth, keyed by Meyer's two-run double.
“Me and (Tyler) Rocklein are both junior college transfers so I think there's an added element of us having to come in and prove ourselves and show that we are the real deal in order for us to play,” said Meyer, who had four hits and drove in five runs on the afternoon.
FAU didn't score the rest of the way which irritated McCormack because the Owls had opportunities. Gregg Bennis came in to finish the second game, but walked the first two batters before surrendering a three-run homer to pinch hitter Brendon Neel.
Bennis then retired Colin Hawk, before yielding to Adams for the final two outs.
GameBrowser: FAU 9, UC 7; FAU 7, UC 5
Owl Star Performance: Corey Keller followed a 4-for-5, three RBI first game with two more hits in the second game.
Moving Forward: Jimmy Tornebene, Brandon Rhodes and Bo Logan combined to throw five scoreless innings out of the bullpen. They didn't allow any hits, but Tornebene did walk two. ...Center fielder Nathan Pittman scored four runs from the lead-off spot. ...Catcher Mike Spano went 2-for-5 with 2 RBI.
Moving Backward: Shortstop Mitch Morales booted a routine ground ball in the first game, then failed to knock down a grounder up the middle in the second game that would have prevented a Cincinnati run. ...Gregg Bennis allowed three earned runs while recording only one out.
Key stat: 25 – hits for FAU over the two games. The Owls' offense looks potent.
Up Next: FAU concludes its season-opening series against Cincinnati on Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for noon.