BOCA RATON, Fla. – Florida Atlantic (22-18, 10-12) scored a pair of runs in the eighth inning runs coming from behind to defeat East Carolina (25-18, 11-8) 4-3 Friday night at FAU Stadium in Conference USA action.
Trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the eighth, FAU got an RBI triple from Tyler Rocklein that scored Brendon Sanger knotting the game at three-all. Two batters later, Kevin Abraham pushed across Rocklein for the game-winning run on a RBI base hit to left field to walk away with the win.
Kevin Alexander (4-1) picked up the win in relief tossing two perfect innings with a pair of strikeouts. Starter Austin Gomber allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits with seven punch outs in seven innings. The left-hander retired the final 10 batters he faced before handing the ball to Alexander, who retired all six Pirates he faced – a total of 16 set down by the two Owl hurlers.
Drew Reynolds (2-1) took the loss giving up both FAU runs in the eighth on two hits with two walks and a pair of strikeouts. Tyler Bolton worked a career-high seven innings in his first career Friday night start in place of Jeff Hoffman, who missed the start due to mild arm soreness. Bolton surrendered two runs (both earned) on six hits with four strikeouts.
The Pirates took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Reynolds scored on Ian Townsend’s at-bat. Reynolds roped a one-out double to right center extending his current hit streak to 11 games and came around to score when Townsend reached on a throwing error by Owl third baseman Robert Buckley.
FAU immediately took a 2-1 advantage in the bottom half of the first on a Rocklein RBI single and a Buckley RBI sac bunt. Ricky Santiago singled to right center which was followed by a Brendon Sanger walk. Rocklein, who had two hits on the night, single to right pushing across Santiago tying the contest at one-all. With runners on the corners, Buckley’s sac bunt back to Bolton plating Sanger.
Hunter Allen’s sacrifice bunt in the second pulled ECU even at two-all. Charlie Yorgen extended his hitting streak to nine games with a one-out double down the right field line. Garrett Brooks followed with a single up the middle giving the Pirates runners at the corners. After a wild pitch moved Brooks into scoring position, Allen laid down a bunt towards first scoring Yorgen.
ECU regained the lead at 3-2 in the fourth on Allen’s RBI ground out that plated Yorgen from third. Yorgen started the stanza with a single down the right field line, took third on Brook’s second hit and crossed home on Allen’s second RBI of the night, a grounder to first.
The two teams will meet back on the diamond Saturday afternoon (4 p.m.) when the Pirates try to even the pivotal C-USA series at one-game each.