FAU pitching, so strong over the past two days, crumbled on the mound Saturday morning in a 13-2 loss to Rice that eliminated FAU from the Conference USA tournament and may well have ended its NCAA tournament hopes.
The game was called after seven innings in accordance with the mercy rule.
Using a “pitching backward” approach that had worked well in recent weeks, FAU coach John McCormack elected to start former closer Cameron Ragsdale Saturday morning. The move didn’t work out.
Ragsdale surrendered a two-run homer in the first, giving Rice an immediate lead, and another two-run shot in the third.
Rice blew the game open in the fourth, plating six runs against an FAU (35-21-1) bullpen that was both worn out and ineffective.
Stephen Kerr’s solo homer in the bottom of the fourth trimmed Rice’s lead to 10-1. He hit another solo shot in the sixth, accounting for all of FAU’s runs.
Rice also handed FAU its first loss of the double elimination tournament, a 5-3 affair on Wednesday.
GameBrowser: No. 6 Rice 13, No. 3 FAU 2
Moving Forward: Kerr finished the afternoon 2-for-3. The second baseman will leave FAU as the program’s all-time leader in assists. …David Miranda went 2-for-3. …Senior Sean Labsan retired the side in order in the sixth inning.
Sliding Backward: The NCAA selection committee likely won’t ding FAU too badly for the margin of Saturday’s loss – these things happen in tournaments when teams run out of pitching – but the Owls will likely finish the season with an RPI above 50, which will greatly hinder their chances of garnering an NCAA tournament at-large berth.
Key Stat: 12 – batters Rice sent to the plate in a 6-run fourth inning.
Up Next: FAU travels home from Biloxi, Miss. The Owls will learn on Monday whether they will receive an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament.