Golden Eagles lose back-and-forth series opener to FAU


Freshman Hunter LeBlanc at bat against FAU on April 3. Photo by: Makayla Puckett

Fresh off of a big 5-3 win over Ole Miss at Pete Taylor Park on Wednesday, the Golden Eagles were unable to maintain that momentum in Game 1 of the team’s weekend conference series against Florida Atlantic, losing 8-5 at home on Friday.

Following two scoreless innings to start the game, the Owls got on the board first in the third inning with a solo home run to center field. Southern Miss responded in the bottom frame of the inning after Hunter Slater’s sacrifice fly foul out allowed Gabe Montenegro to score a run, tying the game at 1-1.

A slightly different scenario played out in the fourth and fifth innings. FAU scored another run in the fourth inning, but the Golden Eagles took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fifth on a score by Will McGillis and another Montenegro score after a Bryant Bowen single.

Momentum started to change once starting pitcher Walker Powell left the game after five innings of work following the fifth inning. While Alex Nelms retired the side in the sixth inning, Josh Lewis allowed two FAU batters to reach base in the seventh inning. Those runners scored later in the inning after Hunter Stanley relieved Lewis, giving FAU a 4-3 lead.

Southern Miss scored one run off of another Bowen hit, this time a RBI double, but it was almost all FAU after that. The Owls scored four runs over the eighth and ninth innings, including three overall in the ninth, to take an 8-4 lead.

Bowen once again put Southern Miss on the board in the bottom of the ninth with a single to right field, but a Matt Wallner strikeout and Erik Hoard fly out sealed the win for FAU.

Montenegro and Bowen were bright spots for the Golden Eagles in the loss. Montenegro finished the night 4-for-5 at the plate and accounted for four of the team’s runs. Bowen finished 3-for-5 and had a team-high three RBI.

On the mound, Powell pitched five total innings and allowed two runs, four hits and two walks, but also recorded five strikeouts. Stanley recorded the loss after two innings of work and allowing six hits and three runs.

Southern Miss returns to the diamond tomorrow for Game 2 against the Owls at 2 p.m., weather permitting.