BOCA RATON – FAU started with a reliever and closed the series opener against Old Dominion with its front-line starter.
The unusual strategy worked, leading to a 6-1 FAU victory over Old Dominion in the final series of the regular season.
The Monarchs entered the series second in Conference USA without hope of catching Southern Miss, which has already clinched the C-USA regular season title.
Tied with La Tech for third place entering the night, FAU needs to sweep the Monarchs to nab the second seed in next week’s conference tournament.
“It’s good for us, we got a win,” FAU coach John McCormack said. “That’s what we needed. One step closer to what we need to do this weekend.”
Starting the first game of his college career, sophomore Kyle Marman allowed the first three batters of the game to reach, then retired the next three on swinging strikeouts to get out of the jam without allowing a run.
Jared Shouppe led off the bottom of the first by blasting a Sam Sinnen offering over the right field wall to put the Owls up 1-0.
Leading 2-0 with two outs in the third, Tyler Frank lofted a looper into short left-center field that bounded off ODU center fielder Kyle Battle’s glove. Ruled an error, the play ignited a four-run FAU third inning highlighted by Esteban Puerta’s three-run homer to left that paid no deference to a steady wind blowing in.
Earlier this week McCormack made the decision to rest Alex House, normally the Owls’ Friday night starter, for the C-USA tournament by using him in relief. House entered in the fifth and needed only 50 pitches to complete the final five innings of the game, earning his first career save.
“That’s perfect, so now he’s done for the weekend and good for the conference tournament,” McCormack said. “I think it was really important for him, for his psyche, for him to get out there and pitch really well.”
GameBrowser: FAU (32-18-1, 17-11) 6, ODU (35-18, 18-10) 1
Moving Forward: Frank hit in the third spot of the order for the second consecutive game. After going hitless in five at-bats on Tuesday, Frank recorded two hits and nearly received a third on a play that was ruled an error. …Puerta reached base in all four plate appearances. Both hits went for extra bases and he drew two walks. …Marman reached his pitch count after two shutout innings but because he was on a pitch count announced prior to the game he was credited with the win. …Nick Swan tossed two shutout innings of relief.
Sliding Backward: FAU didn’t get the results it hoped for from pitcher Mark Nowatnick’s latest X-ray. The crack in Nowatnick’s foot will need at least two more weeks to heal, which means he’s miss the C-USA tournament. …McCormack still isn’t sure who will start Saturday’s season finale. Jake Miednik is back with the team after leaving for a few days because of a family issue. McCormack would like to get the lefty at least an inning on Saturday, but that might come in relief. …FAU made three outs on the basepaths in the first six innings.
Key Stat: 12 – Batters left on base by Old Dominion, nine coming over the first four innings.
Up Next: FAU and ODU play the middle game of their series on Friday. Blake Sanderson gets the ball for FAU in what is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. first pitch.