No. 3 FAU removed all concern early that its baseball season could end on Saturday by scoring six first-inning runs in a 11-2 victory over No. 4 seed Columbia in the losers bracket of the NCAA tournament’s Gainesville regional.
FAU will face the loser of No. 1 Florida vs. No. 2 Jacksonville on Sunday at 1 p.m..
The first six batters of the game reached base for FAU. Even the Owls’ first out, a sacrifice fly to center off the bat of Kevin Abraham, proved productive. The Owls sent 12 batters to the plate in the top of the first inning, which didn’t conclude until David Miranda struck out with the bases loaded.
“We had to score early,” FAU coach John McCormack said. “We had to set the tone.”
That support proved plenty for starter Mark Nowatnick, who needed only 51 pitches to sail through an efficient four shutout innings. With the game in hand early, McCormack pulled Nowatnick ensuing the righty’s availability should the Owls continue to extend their tournament run.
FAU still has ace Jake Miednik available for one of Sunday’s games. Should the Owls win the final game of the losers bracket, they advance to face the winner of that Florida vs. Jacksonville game.
McCormack chose not to start Miednik in Friday’s opening game loss to Jacksonville, electing to reserve him for a potential winners bracket game against Florida that never materialized.
McCormack understands the risk involved with waiting to use his ace.
“I told him there’s a shot you don’t pitch in this thing,” McCormack said.
Miranda’s two-RBI single in the third boosted FAU’s lead to 8-0.
Abraham’s two-hit afternoon included a solo homer in the fourth inning. He was one of four Owls to enjoy multi-hit afternoons, as was Richie Nizza, who launched his first postseason homer in the fifth.
Andru Summerall added an opposite field home run to left in the ninth, providing the Owls’ final run.
Nick Swan, Mike Ruff, and Marc Stewart combined to limit Columbia to 2 runs over the final five innings.
The loss eliminates Columbia from the tournament.