For the second consecutive day FAU lost a game it led in the ninth inning or later.
Sunday’s 5-4 11-inning loss at No. 20 Southern Miss may be the one that proves fatal to the Owls’ NCAA Tournament hopes.
FAU headed to Hattiesburg with a borderline NCAA resume that would benefit from a little bolstering. Victories at Southern Miss would have provided that resume with something it lacks – quality wins. Instead of reinforcing its resume, losing all three games likely means FAU will have to win the Conference USA tournament to earn a bid in the NCAA Tournament. At the least, the Owls will have to make a deep run in the C-USA tournament to get the NCAA’s attention.
The Owls entered the weekend tied for second in C-USA, one game behind Southern Miss. By losing all three FAU now finds itself effectively five games behind the Golden Eagles (USM now holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over FAU) with only six conference games remaining.
FAU now sits in third place in Conference USA, one game behind Old Dominion – the Owls opponent in the final regular season series two weeks from now.
On Sunday FAU trailed 2-0 heading into the ninth inning before solo homers from Jared Shouppe and David Miranda tied the score.
Stephen Kerr’s bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the top of the 11th put the Owls up by a run. Jordan Poore followed with an RBI double that left the Owls needing three outs for a quality win.
For the second time in less than 24 hours Cameron Ragsdale couldn’t deliver those outs. The Owls’ closer walked two but had the Golden Eagles down to their final out before allowing an RBI double to LeeMarcus Boyd and then the game winning two-run single to Dylan Burdeaux.
“Another tough loss,” FAU coach John McCormack said. “We scratched and clawed our way back, but we have to be able to close it out. Credit to them, they didn’t give up either.”
GameBrowser: Southern Miss (37-12, 19-5) 5, FAU (29-16-1, 15-9) 4 (11 inn.)
Moving Forward: Pitcher Jake Miednik wasn’t as sharp as he was last week when he tossed eight innings of one-run ball, but by limiting the potent Southern Miss attack to one run over 5 2/3 innings he gave the Owls a chance to win. …With Mark Nowatnick injured and Blake Sanderson moving to the starting rotation, FAU coach John McCormack is asking some relievers to give him extra innings. Weston Clemente responded with two innings of shutout ball on Sunday, allowing only one hit. …Shouppe went 2-for-4 with a homer and two runs scored. …Poore recorded three hits and drove in a run.
Sliding Backward: Ragsdale’s ERA now sits at 4.50. Never a dominating pitching, Ragsdale has allowed 18 hits and walked 10 in 16 innings while striking out only 11. …Lead-off hitter Tyler Frank went hitless in five at-bats. …Esteban Puerta went hitless in five at-bats.
Key Stat: 7 – walks by FAU pitchers. Five from Miednik, which helped run up his pitch count and the two costly ones from Ragsdale.
Up Next: For the second consecutive week the Owls won’t play a mid-week game. FAU heads to Western Kentucky for its final road series of the season this weekend. First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 6 p.m.