No. 5: Baseball Keeps Rolling
The 2018 FAU baseball season had a special feeling from the start. The Owls won seven of their first eight games – a stretch that included a victory over Miami – with the only loss coming at No. 1 Florida.
FAU kept a steady pace throughout the season, though injuries to the rotation and some of its most important bats forced the Owls to limp to a third place finish in Conference USA play.
Entering the C-USA tournament the Owls recognized they likely needed a couple wins to solidify their NCAA tournament at-large hopes. They accomplished that and more.
In a tournament marred by rain delays, FAU defeated Rice in an elimination game that lasted well past midnight. The Owls finally ran out of gas – actually, ran out of pitchers – in the C-USA finals against Southern Miss, but their run to the championship game ensured an NCAA tournament berth.
FAU lost the opener in Gainesville, but rebounded to reach the regionals’ final day, where the Owls needed to win twice against still-No. 1 Florida.
In front of a national television audience, the Owls knocked off the Gators in the first game of the day and actually led midway through the nightcap before a late Florida rally ended FAU’s season.
During the final game Tampa Bay selected shortstop Tyler Frank in the second round of the 2018 MLB Draft with overall pick No. 56, making Frank the second highest FAU draft pick in program history. In the days that followed five more Owls would be selected in the draft.
What We Wrote
- Miednik to Get Opening Day Start
- FAU Sweeps Miami
- FAU Displays Late Night Magic
- McCormack Makes All the Right Moves
- FAU Earns No. 3 seed in Gainesville Regional
- FAU Defeats No. 1 Florida to Force Winner-Take-All Game
- FAU Baseball Reaches End of the Line
- McCormack “Crestfallen” Following NCAA Elimination
- Six FAU Baseball Players Drafted
Why It’s Important
For starters, winning is always important. That’s why they play the games, right?
Coach John McCormack’s teams tend to win. The Gainesville regional appearance marked the Owls’ fifth NCAA tournament bid in McCormack’s 10 seasons at the helm, and their third time in four years.
The way the Owls won made them easy for fans to embrace. They were resilient. At one point in the season two of their three weekend starters were injured. Catcher and cleanup hitter Pedro Pages missed significant time because of hand surgery yet managed to return for regionals.
With Pages out, Gunnar Lambert moved from first base to catcher, and even played right field late in the elimination game against Rice when the Owls ran out of position players. McCormack started his closer against No. 1 Florida – and won. FAU won marathon games. The Owls rallied to overcome large deficits and win.
Though the Gators eventually ended the Owls’ season, FAU did knock off the No. 1 team in the nation earlier in the day. FAU also swept Miami for the first time in program history, and the victory over Rice in the C-USA tournament ended the career of legendary coach Wayne Graham.
By having six players drafted, FAU once again showed recruits that Boca Raton can be a pathway to professional baseball.
And by playing exciting, winning baseball McCormack and his Owls showed new athletic director Brian White why baseball has been the premiere FAU sport and needs to be supported financially.
No. 10: Construction Begins on Schmidt Complex
No. 9: Stranded in Wisconsin
No. 8: Curry Out, May In
No. 7: Constant QB Battle
No. 6: Change at the Top
No. 5: Baseball Keeps Rolling
No. 4: Boca Bowl Bliss
No. 3: Motor’s Historic Run
No. 2: Conference USA Title Time
No. 1 : The Lane Train Express