Ruff surrendered only three hits and one run while striking out 11 in 7 1/3 innings, allowing the top-seeded Owls to remain in the winners bracket of the tournament.
“Did a really nice job, had some huge strikeouts there in the early innings,” McCormack said of Ruff’s outing.
With the late-night win, FAU earned a day off on Friday. The Owls next take the field on Saturday against the winner of the No. 4 WKU vs No. 8 UTSA game to be played on Friday. FAU already owns wins over both team in the tournament and will need only to win only one of potentially two games against either opponent to advance to Sunday’s C-USA tournament championship game.
By winning their first two Conference USA tournament games, FAU has likely locked up an NCAA tournament at-large berth should the Owls not win the C-USA tournament, thereby claiming the conference’s automatic bid.
FAU scored two runs in the second inning and another in the top of the third before WKU scored its lone run. The Owls added to their lead with single runs in the fifth, seventh and eighth.
Dylan O’Connell didn’t allow a hit and walked only one while recording the final five outs for the Owls. O’Connell and Ruff combined to limit the Hilltoppers to five hits.
Pedro Pages and Mitch Hartigan led the Owls offensively with three hits apiece. Hartigan scored three runs and Wilfredo Alvarez scored two more. Alvarez’s second-inning home run was his first of the year.
FAU scored two of its runs on bases-loaded walks. In total the Owls drew 10 walks on Friday and were hit by four pitches.