Scrambling to protecting a one-run lead with one out in the ninth, FAU closer Zach Schneider induced a bases-loaded double play to seal a 6-5 Owls’ victory over UTSA in the opening round of the Conference USA tournament.
The victory advances top-seeded FAU in the winners bracket. The Owls will face No. 4-seed WKU, which defeated No. 5 ODU late Wednesday night.
After a fielding error by third baseman Joe Montes allowed the Roadrunners to put runners on second and third with no one out, Schneider struck out Ryan Stacy, then intentionally walked Bryan Sturges, loading the bases but also setting up a potential game-ending double play.
The move paid off when Dylan Rock hit a grounder up the middle to perfectly positioned second baseman Francisco Urbaez, who tagged the bag before firing to first for the final out of the game.
Named an All-Conference USA performer one day earlier, Schneider recorded his C-USA-leading 15th save of the season, this one of the five-out variety.
FAU scored five of its six runs in the first three innings. Urbaez started the scoring with a bases-loaded single that plated Eric Rivera. Mitch Hartigan followed with an RBI groundout.
An Andru Summerall single in the second gave the Owls their third run, and FAU added its second run of the game driven home by an out on a Pedro Pages sacrifice fly one batter later.
The Roadrunners drew within one with three runs in the top of the third only to see a Rivera RBI single in the bottom of the inning give the Owls some breathing room.
UTSA tied the game at 5 with a run in the top of the sixth, but FAU broke the tie in the bottom of the inning when Bobby Morgensen scampered home with what turned out to be the game-winning run on a wild pitch.
All-Conference USA starter Blake Sanderson surrendered all five runs on eight hits and three walks in six innings, but still earned the win to improve to 8-2 on the season.