Kings of late Knight
Rutgers closer Ryan Beard hadn't given up an earned run this season, but FAU managed to do what no other team had done by scoring three runs in the bottom of the ninth to rally and defeat the Scarlet Knights 12-11 on Tuesday.
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>Video highlights of FAU's comeback victory over Rutgers
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>Tuesday's box score
BOCA RATON – Florida Atlantic coach John McCormack knew how many earned runs Rutgers senior closer Ryan Beard had allowed this season when he entered the game with a two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth inning Tuesday.
McCormack just hoped his players weren’t aware that Beard had an ERA of 0.00 to go along with his five saves this season.
“We purposely didn’t tell the players,” McCormack said. “We just said ‘Let’s go hit him.”
The Owls did just that.
If the players knew Beard had been almost untouchable this season, it didn’t show as FAU rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth to defeat the Scarlet Knights 12-11 when Beard uncorked a wild pitch with the bases loaded that allowed Sean Bukovich to score the winning run.
“I didn’t even know he was the closer,” said Colby Gratton, who had an RBI single in the wild ninth inning. “It’s not like playing a team on the weekend against our conference where we know all the players. …They brought him and we just went out and did our thing,.
Gratton also had a lead-off homer in the first and a double in the sixth as part of his was 4-for-6 night.
FAU used seven pitchers vs. Rutgers, which has lost its last 11 games against the Owls.
FAU, which pounded out a season-high 18 hits, had a 9-8 lead after seven innings, but after a three-run homer by Rutgers leftfielder Pat Biserta, who had a two-run homer in the fourth, it appeared the Scarlet Knights were in control with an 11-9 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth.
Tom Hatcher singled to right to lead off the inning and catcher Nick Criaris followed with another single to right.
Bukovich then pinch-hit for Mesa. He tried to bunt, but after missing twice was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
“After he got hit I thought we were in pretty good shape with the top of our order coming up,” McCormack said.
Gratton got ahead 3-0, but Beard battled back to make it 3-2 before Gratton slapped a single to left to bring in Hatcher to make it 11-10.
Bubley singled to right to tie the game and then Bukovich scored on the wild pitch to give the Owls their fourth consecutive victory.
Notes: Rutgers coach Fred Hill was ejected in the fifth inning for arguing balls and strikes. …FAU closer Hugh Adams was the winning pitcher for the third time in the last week. …The game featured bases painted like the flag of Ireland in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.
GAME BROWSER: FAU 12, Rutgers 11
FAU senior third baseman Troy Bubley was 4-for-6 with two RBI.
1 - The victory was the first time the Owls rallied after trailing going into the ninth. FAU was 0-3 when trailing after eight innings before Tuesday’s victory.
“I feel for those guys because that’s a tough way to lose a game, but I’m also happy our guys did what they needed to do.
- FAU coach John McCormack
The Owls host the Sacralet Knights Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the final game of the two-game series.