Florida Atlantic returns to title game with win over UTSA

Florida Atlantic returns to title game with win over UTSA

BILOXI, Miss. (Conference USA) - Second baseman Francisco Urbaez drove in four runs with four hits Saturday afternoon to help top-seeded Florida Atlantic lap UTSA, 11-4 in the semifinal round of The First 2019 C-USA Baseball Championship presented by Air Force Reserve.

The 400th victory in Florida Atlantic coach John McCormack’s career sent the Owls (40-19) into Sunday’s 1 p.m. championship game where they will meet second-seeded Southern Miss (37-19) in a rematch of the 2018 title game.

Last year, the Golden Eagles won both regular-season and postseason titles, only the 10th time a C-USA team had won both in the same season. FAU, which clinched the regular-season crown on the last weekend, can become the 11th.

The Owls slowed the Roadrunners’ roll by jumping out to an 8-0 lead after three innings.

UTSA (28-30) cut the lead in half in the bottom of the third inning, but reliever Nick Swan (3-1) allowed just one hit over six scoreless innings to finish out the game.

“Leading into the championship game, that is exactly what we needed to do,” McCormack said. “We got on the board early and we didn’t use a lot of pitching.

“Nick Swan really bailed us out. We were up 8-0, and (starter Jacob) Josey got into a little bit of trouble, and Nick was able to roll the game out. He was absolutely amazing.”

FAU leadoff man Eric Rivera and third baseman Joe Montes each collected three hits with three home runs between them.

Rivera homered, doubled and singled, driving in a pair of runs and scoring three. Montes homered twice, drove in three runs and scored three times.

UTSA starter Cameron Carver (0-3) managed to get just an out before being lifted in the first inning, allowing two runs on a hit, walking two. Reliever Jake Harrison followed and was tagged for four runs on four hits in 1 1/3 innings.

Left fielder Ryan Stacy led the Roadrunners with two of their five hits, hitting a double and single, scoring a run and driving in a run.

“We needed to get off to a fast start, and we just weren’t able to make it happen,” UTSA coach Jason Marshall said. “It’s tough when you lose the first game in the tournament. You go into the loser’s bracket and you are digging your way out of the hole the rest of the tournament. It wears on your (pitching) arms, and you run short of having enough guys through the week.

“I am certainly proud of our fight, putting a four-spot up in the third. We displayed that fight throughout the tournament, and we did the same thing over the last month of the season. I am certainly proud of our character, how we went about our business, and we represented UTSA well.”