BOCA RATON – Three times in the last four days FAU handed its bullpen a lead going into the seventh inning. The Owls have lost all three games.
On Wednesday it wasn’t completely the pitchers’ fault.
FAU stranded 12 runners, including the bases loaded in the third and fifth, and its defense failed to make some plays it could have in a 5-2 loss to Miami.
“We had some opportunities with some good guys in the box and we weren’t able to do it,” FAU coach John McCormack said. “Credit to Miami. I thought they made some really good pitches when they had to. We’ve just got to be better.”
FAU starter Marc Stewart didn’t allow a hit until the third inning when Carl Chester drove the righty’s offering over the left field wall to put the Canes up 1-0.
The Owls loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning but Sean Labsan struck out to end the threat.
FAU struck for both its runs in the fifth, scoring on a Stephen Kerr bases-loaded walk and a Labsan groundout to first where Miami couldn’t complete what would have been an inning-ending double play, but in that inning the Owls also left the bases loaded.
Miami erupted for four runs in the seventh. Kyle Marman allowed the first two runners he faced to reach on a walk and a bounding double before Brandon Gali lofted a looper to left field. Gary Mattis, a freshman who came to FAU as a middle infielder, originally broke backward on the ball and ultimately couldn’t reach it, allowing Christopher Barr to score to tie the game.
“Gary Mattis maybe catches that ball in a month when he’s played a little bit more left field in this situation,” McCormack said.
Miami followed with consecutive bunts, plating another run before Johnny Ruiz sent a drive into the left-center field gap that Eric Rivera couldn’t quite coral near the warning track, giving Miami its final two runs.
“Some of these almost-made plays will be made a little bit later down the road,” McCormack said. “Hopefully Friday.”
GameBrowser: Miami (3-4) 5, FAU (4-3-1) 2
Moving Forward: Catcher Kevin Abraham went 2-for-3 and McCormack praised his work behind the plate. …Marc Stewart allowed one run on two hits while striking out six in five innings. He did not factor in the decision. …Right fielder Jared Shouppe (hamstring) missed his fourth consecutive game but was available for emergency pinch hit duty. McCormack hopes to get him back on the field Friday.
Sliding Backward: Marman surrendered three runs, all earned, in 1 plus inning of work, taking the loss. …Eric Keating followed Marman and didn’t retire either batter he faced, surrendering two hits. …The Owls managed only one hit over the final three innings. …Kerr and Rivera came together in a sliding collision on a bloop to right center and both remained on the ground for a few minutes before ultimately staying in the game. Kerr banged his wrist while Rivera emerged with a sore groin.
Key Stat: 1,729 – announced crowd for Wednesday’s game. The first base berm was loud and the bleachers were packed.
Up Next: For the second consecutive week a Big Ten team comes to Boca Raton. Illinois is in town for a three game set that begins on Friday at 6:30 p.m.