Looking like he’d been a starter all season, Schneider used his funky sidearm delivery to keep the powerful Gators off balance most of the evening, allowing three runs over five innings in a 7-4 FAU victory over Florida in the NCAA tournament’s Gainesville regional.
The FAU victory forces a winner-take-all Gainesville regional final game on Monday. Should FAU win, the Owls will travel to Auburn for a super regional next weekend. FAU has only advanced to one regional in program history, that coming in 2002.
A loss ends FAU’s season.
Searching for a starting pitcher that would give the Owls a chance to force a final game, FAU coach John McCormack tabbed closer Zach Schneider for the first start of his FAU career.
The 100-pitch performance nearly doubled Schneider’s longest outing of the season. He allowed six hits while striking out five and walking one against the top-seeded team in the tournament. Schneider earned his sixth win of the season. He has either won or saved 21 of FAU’s 43 victories this season.
“The sidearm guys don’t get as tired, and sometimes those guys get a little bit better as they get tired,” FAU coach John McCormack said.
A weather delay of nearly five hours prior to the start of the game did little to dampen FAU’s bats early.
The Owls didn’t score in the first inning like they did in the first three games of the regional, but plated five in the third, with David Miranda and Joe Montes both driving two-run singles through the left side of the infield.
FAU answered Florida’ two runs in the top of the fourth with two runs of its own in the bottom of the frame. Montes struck again with a sacrifice fly. Jared DeSantolo’s RBI single to left drove in the Owls’ seventh run of the game, but Gunnar Lambert was cut down at home for the final out of the inning on that play.
Drew Peden allowed one run over the final 3 2/3 innings to close out the ballgame.