BOCA RATON — Earlier this week, FAU lefty Jake Miednik was away from the team and dealing with personal tragedy.
Five days later, the junior was carrying the Owls on Senior Day, throwing eight shutout innings in a 3-0 win over Old Dominion.
The win, which comes on the heels of a 9-8 loss on Friday where the Owls’ bullpen allowed four runs in the ninth, locks FAU into the third seed for the Conference USA tournament.
But on a day where FAU honored their seniors and rebounded from a heartbreaking loss on Friday, the story was about Miednik. Away from the team on Monday and Tuesday as his grandfather passed away, Miednik struck out five and scattered six hits in a pitching performance the Owls desperately needed.
“He was awesome,” Owls coach John McCormack said. “His breaking ball was working, his fastball was back up to 91 [MPH], and I’m really proud of him. That stuff is never easy and sometimes, your emotions take over and you want to be so good and you can’t. [Jake] was able to keep himself in check and he did a really nice job.”
Miednik, who entered play with a 5.68 ERA this season and has said that he pitches best when angry, described his emotions as ‘numb’ on Saturday. Throwing 76 of his 106 pitches for strikes, Miednik worked out of trouble early and didn’t allow a walk on Saturday.
“I took it one inning at a time, one pitch at a time,” Miednik said. “I couldn’t really have too much emotion – too much stuff is going in and out of my brain.”
After being honored with the rest of his fellow seniors, Owls second baseman Stephen Kerr doubled Jared Shouppe home with no outs in the bottom of the first inning. Esteban Puerta, also honored, gave Miednik a 2-0 lead with an RBI single in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Kerr struck again, singling Shouppe home in the bottom of the seventh inning on a play that saw the Owls second baseman take third on an error by left fielder Turner Bishop.
Cameron Ragsdale closed things out in the ninth to secure the win.
“Today was a big W for us – of course, it gets us another win on the year – but it gets us in the three hole,” McCormack said. “This was big. After last night – and I told the team it’s not what happens; what happened was bad, but it’s how you come out the next day.”
GameBrowser: FAU (33-19-1, 18-12) 3, ODU (36-19, 19-11) 0
Moving Forward: Shouppe had two hits and stole two bases. …Austin Langham was 1-for-2. …Six of the Owls’ seven hits on Sunday came from seniors (Shouppe, Kerr, Langham, and Puerta); David Miranda had the other hit for FAU.
Sliding Backward: Tyler Frank was 0-4 at the plate, though he did make two brilliant plays on defense. …Sean Labsan, Pedro Pages, and Eric Rivera combined to go 0-9 from the bottom third of the order. …Langham was charged with an error in the sixth inning.
Key Stat: 0 – Walks for Miednik, keeping his pitch count reasonable and saving the bullpen from another day of heavy usage.
Senior Day: In addition to Kerr and Puerta, the Owls also honored Ragsdale, Shouppe, Langham, Labsan, and former FAU reliever/current assistant coach Austin Kirksey. athletic trainer Andy Calore was also part of the ceremonies.
Up Next: FAU, having clinched the third seed, will travel to Biloxi, Miss., for the Conference USA tournament, where the Owls will be the No. 3 seed. FAU will face Rice on Wednesday in the opening round.