BOCA RATON, Fla. – Florida Atlantic (5-2) used three runs in each of the first two innings to defeat the Monmouth University baseball team on Sunday afternoon, 6-5 at FAU Baseball Field. Junior Chris McKenna (Pine Beach, N.J./Toms River South) threw six scoreless innings in relief for the Hawks, who fall to 1-2 on the season.
Freshman Shaine Hughes (Sewell, N.J./Washington Township) went 2-for-3 in his first career start, and Steve Wilgus (Woolwich, N.J./Gloucester Catholic) and Jake Gronsky (Danville, Pa./Danville Area) added a pair of hits apiece for MU. Monmouth starter Jeff Singer (Riverton, N.J./Gloucester C.C./Holy Cross) threw an inning plus, allowing six runs, five of which were earned, on eight hits. He was relieved by McKenna, who went six shutout innings, allowing just one hit. He only allowed two base runners scattered across his time on the mound. Jeff Paglione (Mantua, N.J./Glocuester Catholic) added a scoreless eighth.
The day started quickly for Monmouth, as the Hawks put up multiple runs in the first inning for the second time in the series. Wilgus and Gronsky started the frame with back-to-back singles before Dan Shea (Wilmington, Del./Salesianum) walked to load the bases. Avella laced a double to right, plating two and giving MU the early lead. Joe Bamford (Washington, N.J./Northampton C.C./Warren Hills Regional) followed by dropping a base hit into left, driving in two more. Hughes followed with his first collegiate hit, but Bamford was cut down at home trying to score and the inning ended with Monmouth leading 4-0.
FAU went right to work in the next two innings, scoring three runs in each of the first two frames. In the first, Brendon Sanger, Stephen Kerr and Tyler Rocklein all singled to load the bases with nobody out. Ricky Santiago brought home the first run with a sacrifice fly, and Esteban Puerta drove home two more with a double to draw FAU within one, 4-3.
CJ Chatham started the second with a double to left center, before Jose Bonilla Traverso reached on an error by Robbie Alessandrine (Sewell, N.J./Gloucester Catholic). Sanger and Kerr both followed with run-scoring singles, before Rocklein drove in a run with a double and put the Owls up 6-4.
MU pulled closer in the fifth, when Alessandrine walked and moved to second on a Kyle Perry (Toms River, N.J./Toms River South) sacrifice bunt. Wilgus reached with an infield hit to move Alessandrine to third, and after Wilgus swiped a bag, Gronsky was hit by a pitch to fill the bases. Two batter later, Jon Guida (Martinsville, N.J./Bridgewater Raritan) benefited on an error by Kerr, as the shortstop overthrew second base in an attempt to force Gronsky. Alessandrine scored on the play, making it a 6-5 ballgame in favor of Florida Atlantic.
Monmouth would strand a runner at second in the sixth, but were unable to push across the equalizer. Bo Logan picked up the win in relief of starter Drew Jackson, who went only 4.1 innings, allowing five runs, four earned, on seven hits.
The Hawks return to action on Friday for the first of three games next weekend at #1 Virginia at 3:00 p.m.