WEST PALM BEACH – Looking to invigorate an offense that showed punch but lacked timely hitting during a current rough streak, FAU coach John McCormack juggled his batting order Tuesday night for the Owls second and final game of the season at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
The move worked, producing nine runs in FAU’s 9-4 to victory over UCF.
“I thought it was just worth shaking up a little bit – giving guys a different look in the line-up,” McCormack said. “I thought it was important for us to kind of change it up and, after the weekend we had, not to just roll in here and do the same thing.”
The win was only the second in FAU’s last seven games.
The Owls made the most of their 10 hits on the night. FAU plated a run in the first and two in the second before breaking the game open in the third with four runs.
Hitting lead-off for the first time in his FAU career, Jared Shouppe led off the bottom of the first with a double and would score on David Miranda’s two-out single to center. One of the hottest hitting Owls in recent weeks, Shouppe went 1-for-3 from the top spot.
With the game tied at 1 in the second, Kevin Abraham gave the Owls a lead they wouldn’t relinquish when he muscled a single through the left side of the infield, scoring Sean Labsan. An Austin Langham single two batters later drove home Eric Rivera with the Owls third run.
FAU scored runs via a passed ball, a wild pitch, a sacrifice fly and a another Abraham single in the fourth, chasing UCF starter Juan Pimentel.
Even though the day was only Tuesday, McCormack also elected to shake up the weekend rotation. Normally the Owls’ Friday starter, Alex House tossed one inning of scoreless relief against UCF. House will not appear in the starting rotation this weekend, McCormack said, in an effort to give him a rest heading into the Conference USA tournament – which begins next week in Biloxi, Miss.
FAU won both games against UCF this season.
GameBrowser: FAU (31-18-1) 9, UCF (36-17) 4
Moving Forward: Pitching for the first time since blowing back-to-back saves two weekends ago at Southern Miss, former closer Cameron Ragsdale struck out two and allowed an unearned run while working the seventh inning. …Miranda had two hits, drove in two runs and scored twice. …Esteban Puerta enjoyed a two-hit night. …Serving as the Owls’ DH, Sean Labsan doubled and scored twice.
Sliding Backward: The move to the No. 3 spot in the lineup didn’t seem to suit Tyler Frank. One of the few candidates FAU has for a first-team All-Conference USA selection, Frank went 0-for-5. …Second baseman Stephen Kerr dropped to the seventh spot in the line-up but went hitless in three at-bats.
Key Stat: 2 – wins in two games this season for FAU at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Look for the Owls to play more games here next season as FAU attempts to build a relationship with the ballpark in hopes of someday hosting a C-USA tournament or NCAA regional.
Up Next: Old Dominion comes to FAU for a three-game series that begins on Thursday. It’s the final series of the regular season. If FAU can sweep ODU, the Owls will be the No. 2 seed in the Conference USA tournament.