CHAPEL HILL — If there were any questions about No. 2 Florida Atlantic’s offense after scoring just two runs during an upset by No. 3 Towson, they were answered in a big way as the Owls drubbed No. 4 Canisius 14-6.
The Golden Griffins were eliminated from the Chapel Hill regional after going 0-2 with losses against Towson and Florida Atlantic. For FAU, the win simply means they face Towson for a chance to play UNC on Sunday night.
After starting ace Austin Gomber – who pitched 7 2/3 innings and gave up three earned runs on seven hits – the Owls will be pitching Jake Meiers.
The senior had one of his best starts against then-No. 10 N.C. State on March 2, giving up one run on five hits over five innings and striking out a career-high seven batters.
As for the Sunday night starter against Carolina if FAU pulls out a win in the early game, coach John McCormack didn’t have a decisive answer yet.
“I felt it was important we have a win under our belt and we go from there,” he said. “In the fourth game we will have to figure something out. We will do it by committie or (find) somebody.”
LASER SHOW: Florida Atlantic’s Corey Keller and Nathan Pittman combined to go 5-for-8 with three homers, eight RBI and eight runs. Pittman also hit a double, drew three walks and stole a base from the top spot in the lineup.
“He had the ability to hit every pitch that we threw him and he took quality at-bats all day,” Canisius catcher Brooklyn Foster said of Pittman. “It made it tough on us and tough on our pitchers.”
Pittman attributed his performance to a loose approach prior to the game.
“You don’t want to go 0-2 in a regional,” he said. “Today we came out and the emphasis was on just having fun and enjoying ourselves and playing. … That’s the main goal, get the win and keep rolling.”
GOING ON THE OFFENSIVE: Florida Atlantic managed just two runs against Towson in the first game, but bookended it with a 16-run performance in the Sun Belt title game and the 14-6 game Saturday.
The Owls came into the regional with 110 RBI in two-out situations, led by catcher Levi Meyer (16) and Pittman (14).
Those numbers compliment one of the best pitching staffs in the country. FAU led the Sun Belt with a 3.63 earned run average during the regular season and entered the tournament with a 3.60 ERA following the conference tournament.