Stalwart Tyler Frank, the 2018 Conference USA Player of the Year, now plays in the Tampa Bay organization. The pitchers comprising his weekend rotation were, to be kind, unproven.
After being swept by North Florida in a midweek series, the Owls ended February with a 3-6 record and a six-game losing streak.
The Owls promptly righted themselves. Behind a powerful offense that carried an improving pitching staff, FAU won eight of its next nine to enter Conference USA play with momentum.
FAU defeated rivals Miami, Florida, UCF and USF during midweek games, and by the time the Owls concluded their regular season with an 8-7 victory over Middle Tennessee Florida Atlantic claimed its second C-USA regular season title and fourth overall under McCormack.
Florida Atlantic ultimately fell to Southern Miss in the C-USA tournament, but saw its season extended by an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
In Athens the Owls added one more win to their season total, defeating Mercer in an elimination game to finish the season with 41 wins. A season that came in like a ferocious lion in February went out, in June, like a prized Stallion.
Less than a week after their season-ending loss to Georgia five Owls, led by catcher Pedro Pages, learned they’d be taking their games to the next level when they were selected in the MLB Draft. On Friday closer Zach Schneider bumped the total to a half dozen when he signed with the Boston organization as a free agent.
What We Wrote about FAU’s 2019 Baseball Season
- Closer Schneider to Adopt Goose Role
- FAU Strikes Out Distractions To End Losing Streak
- FAU Ready for Regular Season Title Shot
- McCormack Named Coach of the Year
- FAU Earns NCAA At-Large Bid
- NCAA first Round Match-up Vs. FSU Two Decades in the Making
- Season Ends in Loss to Georgia
- Five Owls Selected in MLB Draft
Why FAU’s Impressive Baseball Season Is Important
FAU baseball accomplished what we’ve come to expect from them, but did so in an unconventional manner. Normally a coach who relies on pitching and small ball, McCormack changed his approach to better suit this year’s team.
Instead of utilizing speed to force opponent’s defensive mistakes, McCormack let the Owls’ bats do the talking. They responded by leading Conference USA in most important offensive categories. The Owls’ offensive production gave their pitchers cover, and the pitchers, in turn, continued to improve throughout the season.
These Owls were resilient. They played with heart. They were never out of games.
Those traits were never more evident than Sunday’s game against Old Dominion. Having dropped the first two games of the series and in danger of being swept and potentially dropping out of contention for the regular season title, FAU rallied from a 7-1 deficit to score seven ninth-inning runs, winning in walk-off fashion.
“I think if we got swept there it would have destroyed us,” said McCormack, C-USA’s Coach of the Year.
Under McCormack the Owls reached the NCAA tournament in four of their past five seasons. More importantly, the Owls finally appear to have gained the NCAA’s respect. While there was some concern that the NCAA could leave FAU out of the tournament, the committee instead rewarded the Owls by assigning them a No. 2 seed.
It’s getting to the point where a good FAU baseball season is no longer newsworthy as much as it is expected.
COUNTDOWN OF 2018-19’s TOP FAU STORIES
No. 10: Kiffin Lands Top Recruiting Class
No. 9: Potent Transfer Portal Helps, Hurts
No. 8: FAU Makes Major Facilities Improvements
No. 7: FAU Plays in the CIT Postseason Tournament
No. 6: FAU Baseball Extends Its Excellence