If FAU is going to make its third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, the Owls are going to have to do it the hard way.
No. 3 seed FAU fell to No. 6 Rice 5-3 on Wednesday morning in Biloxi, Miss., in the opening game of the Conference USA tournament in a game where FAU managed only six hits.
“We have to swing the bats better,” FAU coach John McCormack said. “I thought we pitched well and our defense was good. We just have to swing the bats better. At one point, we ran 18 or 19 0-2 counts, and that is really hard to hit. We need to be a little bit more aggressive.”
FAU falls to the losers’ bracket, where the Owls will face No. 7 FIU, which lost to No. 2 ODU on Wednesday.
With seven losses in the last 11 games, the Owls likely have to win the Conference USA tournament to advance to the NCAA Tournament.
Making only his second career start, Kyle Marman surrendered two of his three runs over five innings in the first frame.
FAU scored all three of its runs on solo homers by Esteban Puerta, Tyler Frank and Stephen Kerr.
Needing two runs to send the game to extra innings, FAU mounted a two-out rally on a single by Jordan Poore and Pedro Pages being hit by a pitch. Eric Rivera, though, ended the game by lofting a routine fly ball to right.
GameBrowser: No. 6 Rice 5, No. 3 FAU 3.
Moving Forward: Tyler Frank was the lone Owls to enjoy a multi-hit day, going 2 for 4 with a homer. …Marc Stewart didn’t allow a run while working the ninth inning.
Sliding Backward: Catcher Kevin Abraham had to leave the game after being hit in the hand by a pitch in the third inning. He was taken for X-rays, the results of which were not immediately available. …Reliever Drew Peden allowed a runner inherited from Nick Swan to score, then surrendered a run of his own in 1 2/3 innings. …David Miranda went hitless in four at-bats, with three strikeouts.
Key Stat: 13 – times FAU batters struck out on Wednesday, while drawing only one walk.
Up Next: FAU plays FIU at 10 a.m. on Thursday.