FAU will now face Columbia in an elimination game on Saturday at 1 p.m..
With an eye on a potential showdown with top-seeded Florida, FAU elected to reserve ace Jake Miednik, starting Blake Sanderson instead,
No. 3 seeded FAU staked Sanderson to a 3-0 lead in the top of the fourth, but the righty surrendered two homes run in the bottom of the inning, allowing Jacksonville to tie the score. Regional No. 2-seeded Jacksonville took the lead with a run in the fifth, Sanderson’s final inning, and another in the following inning as insurance.
FAU’s offense hoped to receive a boost from the return of Pedro Pages and David Miranda. The duo combined for two of FAU’s five hits on the evening, but didn’t factor in the Owls’ run production.
Miranda returned to his customary right field spot, but Pages played first base instead of catcher. For Pages, who underwent surgery to remove the hamate bone in his left hand, it was his first action in more than a month. Miranda strained a hamstring last week while recording the game-winning hit against FIU in the opening game of the C-USA tournament.
The first three batters of the game reached for FAU and the fourth, Eric Rivera, drove in the first run of the game with a fielder’s choice grounder to short that left the Owls with runners on the corners. Another fielder’s choice, this one off the bat of Cody Wilson, drove in the second run of the inning.
Wilson didn’t need any help producing the Owls’ third run, reaching out and smacking a Chris Gau offering over the left field wall. FAU would only manage two more hits, and three more base runners, the remainder of the way.
FAU last won the opening game of an NCAA regional in 2003.
Should FAU defeat Columbia, the Owls would face the loser of Saturday’s Florida vs. Jacksonville game on Sunday.