FAU trainer Zac Brookman attends to Corey Keller as coach John McCormack looks on. Keller was hit in the helmet by a pitch in the Owls' loss to Alabama. (OwlAccess.com photo)
FAU right fielder Corey Keller hit in the helmet by a pitch and taken to the hospital in Owls' 5-2 loss to Alabama.
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BOCA RATON – Florida Atlantic may have lost its most potent bat for an undetermined amount of time after right fielder Corey Keller was hit in the head with a pitch, forcing the helmet down on his nose and potentially breaking the nose.
The at-bat came in the ninth inning of the Owls' 5-2 loss to Alabama.
After being hit, Keller ripped off his helmet and fell to the ground, where he stayed for about a minute. Keller walked to the dugout under his own power, holding a towel to his face to stop the bleeding. His father said Keller was being taken to Boca Raton Regional Hospital with what was believed to be a broken nose.
“It didn't look good,” FAU coach John McCormack said. “You just hope there are no long-lasting effects of him being hurt for a long period of time.”
Keller had already been hit once in the at-bat by a Keaton Haack pitch, but the home plate umpire ruled that Keller was hanging over the plate and did not award Keller first base.
“He made the right call,” McCormack said.
Losing Keller for any amount of time could leave a huge hole in the Owls' order. Keller leads FAU in hits with nine and extra-base hits with three.
The loss of Keller accompanied a disappointing loss on the field by the Owls. FAU pitchers lived dangerously, allowing the lead-off runner to reach base in five of the first seven innings of Friday's series-opener against Alabama.
In the eighth inning the Crimson Tide finally made the Owls' pay, scoring the three runs that provided their margin of victory.
With the score tied at 2 in the eighth, Archer allowed the first three batters of the inning to reach via a single, a walk and an error by shortstop Mitch Morales. Ben Moore then singled off the right field wall, giving Alabama a one-run lead and chasing Archer from the game.
Bo Logan allowed two inherited runners to score, giving the Tide their three-run lead.
FAU struck for the first two runs of the game in the bottom of the second. Sean Murrell's safety squeeze went right back to pitcher Charley Sullivan on the mound. Sullivan's throw home beat Jimenez to the plate, but the Owls' left fielder slid under the tag, dislodging catcher Brett Booth's foot from the front of the plate.
On the play Mitch Morales went from first to third when he realized no one was covering that base, and the hustle paid off when he scored on a wild pitch.
Alabama tied the game with an unearned run off starter Austin Gomber in the third, and another off reliever Archer in the seventh.
GameBrowser: Alabama 5, FAU 2
Owl star performance: Austin Gomber allowed one earned run on two hits while striking out five in six innings but did not factor in the decision.
Moving forward: Tyler Rocklein had the lone multi-hit game for the Owls, going 2-for-4. ...Geoff Jimenez received his first left-field start of the year. He drew a walk, stole a base and scored. ...Second baseman Sean Murrell was 1-for-2 with an RBI.
Moving backward: Shortstop Mitch Morales continues to struggle on the simplest of plays. His error on a chopper in the eighth played a big part in those three runs. ...Andrew Archer allowed four runs, two of them earned, in a little more than an inning of work. ...Mark Nelson went 0-for-4.
Key stat: 7 – runs surrendered by FAU's bullpen in the past two games, both losses.
Up next: FAU and Alabama play the second game of their three game series on Saturday at FAU baseball stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.