LITTLE ROCK -
Florida Atlantic (29-20, 17-8 Sun Belt) banged out 15 hits and scored the final six runs to pick up a 12-8 win over UALR (26-25, 12-15) and avoid a three-game sweep at Gary Hogan Field. The Trojans rallied from a 6-0 first-inning deficit by plating eight runs in the bottom of the fourth, but managed just two hits and went scoreless over the final five frames.
Alex Hudak and Dylan Seigel totaled four hits apiece to lead the FAU offense, while Nathan Pittman drove in four runs and tied things up at 8-all in the top of the sixth with a two-run homer. Michael Sylvestri (1-2) worked 3.1 innings in relief of starter Austin Gomber to pick up his first win of the year, and Alvarez closed out the game with 2.0 shutout frames for his eighth save.
Senior Sean Bignall was one of three Trojans to record a multi-hit game in the loss, going 2-for-4 with a run scored and three RBI. Bignall delivered a bases-clearing, three-run single as part of UALR's eight-run rally in the fourth which brought his season RBI total to 64 - one shy of the school record. Junior John Clark and senior Greg Garcia added two hits apiece for the Trojans, while Nick Rountree hit his 10th home run season - a two-run shot in the fourth.
After scoring just three runs in the first two games of the series, the Owls erupted for six runs in the top of the first off UALR starter Cameron Allen. The Wichita Falls, Texas-native hit Mike Albaladejo with his first pitch of the game, and FAU tallied three-straight hits after Allen struck out Mitch Morales. Kyle Newton put the Owls on the board with a run-scoring single, and Mark Nelson followed with a two-run double to left center.
FAU loaded the bases off another hit batter and a walk, and Allen forced across the fourth run of the inning by walking Pittman. The Trojans called upon sophomore Austin Pfeiffer to bail the team out after Pittman's walk, but Albaladejo delivered a two-run single through the left side to make it a 6-0 ballgame. Pfeiffer finally got the Trojans out of the inning by retiring Morales on a fly ball to right - FAU's 11th batter of the frame.
Gomber held UALR to one hit over three scoreless frames to open the game before the Trojan offense rallied for eight runs with two outs on the board in the fourth. Gomber retired two of the first three batters he faced before the next four Trojans reached base. Clark, Garcia and senior Cameron Bentley all drove in a run, with Bentley's RBI base knock chasing Gomber from the game.
Sylvestri came on to pitch for FAU and issued a walk to sophomore Ben Crumpton to load the bases, before Bignall plated all three runners with a single to left center. Tied at 6-all, Rountree capped off the eight-run rally with a two-run homer to right to give UALR its first lead of the game, 8-6.
Pfeiffer retired FAU in order in the fifth to protect UALR's 8-6 lead, but the Owls evened things up at 8-all in the top of the sixth as Pittman followed up leadoff single by Seigel with a two-run homer to right. Junior Marshal Hamrick recorded the final two outs of the sixth to get the Trojans out of the inning, but was pulled after surrendering a leadoff single to Mark Nelson in the seventh.
Junior Bubba Cooper took the mound with a runner on first and no outs, but FAU quickly moved Nelson over to third as Corey Keller walked and Ricky Santiago laid down a sacrifice bunt. Seigel plated the go-ahead run with a single to left, and FAU extended its lead to 10-8 as Pittman lifted a sacrifice fly to left off sophomore Andrew Hohn. The Owls went on to load the bases with two outs on the board off a single and a walk, but Hohn got out of the inning without any further damage by getting an inning-ending groundout to short from Hudak.
FAU used three hits and a Trojan error to tack on a pair of insurance runs off sophomore Ethan Schlechte in the ninth and take a 12-8 lead. The extra runs would prove unnecessary, however, as Alvarez closed out the game by facing just seven batters (with three strikeouts) over 2.0 shutout innings.
UALR closes out the 2012 regular season this week at Gary Hogan Field (May 17-19) when it hosts Arkansas State for a three-game set. First pitch for Thursday's series opener is set for 6 p.m.