Florida Atlantic University got a bit of revenge Saturday afternoon and set up a win-or-go home situation after taking down Rice University 7-4 in the 2018 Conference USA Baseball Championship.
“Stay tuned for the sequel,” FAU coach John McCormack said. “Owls vs. Owls: Act III.”
Third-seeded FAU (39-16-1) and seventh-seeded Rice (26-30-2) were playing in Saturday night’s final game at MGM Park.
“It should be a good game,” Rice coach Wayne Graham said. “We’re all going to use everything we’ve got.”
The FAU-Rice winner earns a spot in Sunday’s C-USA title game scheduled for 1 p.m..
Rice beat FAU 5-4 Thursday in a second-round game, but FAU came back through the elimination bracket, knocking out second-seeded Louisiana Tech Friday before staying alive by handing previously undefeated Rice its first loss of the tournament.
Rice led 1-0 before FAU put up four runs in the third inning. One run scored on a wild pitch, another on a run-scoring single by designated hitter Jared DeSantolo and two more on a double by third baseman Joe Montes.
But Rice loaded the bases off FAU starter Blake Sanderson in the sixth inning, and Ford Proctor’s double off the wall in right-center field cleared them and tied the score 4-4.
FAU wasted no time coming back with two runs in the top of the seventh. The tie-breaking run scored on a double-play grounder and FAU left fielder Eric Rivera's single drove in the second.
Rivera helped FAU add an insurance run in the ninth inning when his infield single brought home shortstop Tyler Frank.
FAU reliever Weston Clemente (2-0) picked up the win by allowing a hit before getting the last out to squelch Rice’s big sixth inning. Matt Harris picked up his third save of the season by allowing two hits over three shutout innings.
Jackson Parthasarthy (3-5) took the loss, allowing two runs on five hits over 4 1/3 innings.
Montes had three hits for FAU, while Rivera and right fielder Jordan Poore had two each. Rice got two hits apiece from right fielder Bradley Gneiting, third baseman Braden Comeaux and center fielder Ryan Chandler.
No. 4 Charlotte 10, Texas-San Antonio 4
In the third inning of Saturday morning’s elimination baseball game between the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and University of Texas-San Antonio, the Roadrunners center fielder, Trent Bowles, hit a two-out grand slam home run that erased a 2-0 lead the 49ers had held.
Charlotte merely shrugged.
“We didn’t freak out about that,” Charlotte coach Loren Hibbs said. “We just continued to play.”
The 49ers scored eight unanswered runs, including five in the seventh inning, to knock off UTSA 10-4 at MGM Park in the final, third-round game of the 2018 Conference USA Baseball Championship
The 49ers and Roadrunners were quite familiar with one another, meeting for the fifth time in 10 days, including an 11-1 victory in an opening-round game Thursday. Saturday, UTSA seemed to have seized some early momentum.
Charlotte had taken a 2-0 lead with two outs in the top of the third inning on second baseman Tommy Bullock's single and a balk by UTSA starter Nathan Alexander.
The Roadrunners (32-24) responded in the bottom of the inning off Charlotte starting pitcher Matt Brooks.
Catcher Garrett Moon and first baseman Ben Brookover singled, and after each moved up a base on a sacrifice bunt, second baseman Bryan Arias walked to load the bases.
Brooks got a strikeout for the second out, but Bowles lifted a flyball that cleared the fence in the right-field corner just inside the foul pole for his eighth home run of the season and a 4-2 UTSA lead.
“Hey, it was a good pitch,” Hibbs said. “Brooks made a good pitch, and the kid put a good swing on it. Fly ball to right field, hit it in the right spot.
“But I’m proud of the guys. It’s just who we are. We compete every time we get a chance to go out and play.”
The 49ers pulled within 4-3 in the fifth inning on center fielder Reece Hampton’s sacrifice fly, and then regained the lead with a pair of runs in the sixth inning.
Third baseman Jackson Mims reached second base on a throwing error, went to the third on a flyball and scored on right fielder Todd Elwood’s double. Elwood stole third base and then scored on a wild pitch to give the 49ers a 5-4 lead.
“They just had some quality at-bats, just some little things that they did well, controlling the bat that got them back in the ballgame,” UTSA coach Jason Marshall said. “Sometimes, it just comes down to those little things and trying to get separation, and keep that momentum on your side.
“We didn’t do it and they kind fo just took it away from us.”
Charlotte iced the game in the seventh with two outs, pushing across five runs on a two-run double by left fielder Drew Ober, a two-run single by Elwood and first baseman Dominick Cammarata being hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
All in all, the teams combined to score 12 of the game’s 14 runs with 2 outs.
Charlotte reliever Jonah Patten (4-1) picked up the win, allowing just three hits over the final five scoreless innings. He walked two and struck out six.
UTSA’s second pitcher, Palmer Wenzel (6-2), took the loss after allowing two unearned runs on one hit in 1 1/3 innings. He walked one, struck out one.
Bullock, Elwood and designated hitter Zack Smith each had two of the 49ers’ nine hits, and each scored two runs. Mims also scored twice.
Shortstop Joshua Lamb had three of the Roadrunners’ eight hits.
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