FAU downs No. 16 Miami 5-2

CORAL GABLES — Sure, it was a mid-week game, but FAU looked every bit the part of an Omaha contender Wednesday night in a 5-2 win at No. 16 Miami. 

A first-inning two-run homer, a strong start from southpaw Brandon Rhodes and some shoddy Hurricanes defense lifted FAU (3-1) to a victory that will surely boost the team’s national profile. 

Rhodes didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning and allowed only two runs on four hits in 5.2 innings, striking out five. He’s the first FAU pitcher to beat Miami twice in his career. 

FAU closer Kevin Alexander registered his first save of the year in the win, but not before allowing the tying run to come to the plate. Alexander stuck out Dale Carey on three consecutive pitches to seal the victory.

Victories at Miami are rare for FAU, and coach John McCormack said the effects of Wednesday’s game should last much longer than a few days. 

“It’s a good opponent on the road, and we we’re able to win,” McCormack said. “At the end of the year they will have a very good RPI, they play in a very good league, and the committee looks at those things… this could help us come selection time.”

Miami (2-2) had four errors in Wednesday’s game — a fact bemoaned by Miami coach Jim Morris two days before the Hurricanes host Florida for a highly-anticipated weekend series between nationally-ranked teams. 

“We’re counting on winning with pitching and defense,” Morris said. “We’ve got to figure out who is going to get it done defensively and make those plays…we’re getting too many errors... I can't worry about Florida. We've got to worry about us."

FAU jumped out to a 2-0 lead when Ricky Santiago battled back from a 0-2 count with two outs to bring the count full and then connect for a sky-high two-run homer to left field. 

The homer was Santiago’s 10th in his three-year career. 

Tyler Rocklein added another un in the third, when his infield single brought home freshman designated hitter Sean Labsan, who led off the inning with a double and advanced to hire on a Brandon Sanger single. 

Rhodes didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning — but he faded with two outs in the sixth. Back-to-back doubles by Carey and Tyler Palmer put the Hurricanes on the board. A David Thompson single brought home Palmer and chased Rhodes, but Reily Monkman was able to close out the inning and maintain the FAU lead. 

The Owls extended their lead with some help from the Hurricanes defense. With Levi Meyer on second with two outs in the seventh, Miami intentionally walked Billy Endris to get to freshman shortstop Steve Kerr. That plan backfired, as Kerr brought home Meyer with an RBI double down the first-base line. Endris was poised to score on the play as well, but fell rounding third.

At the same time, Kerr was advancing to third base, anticipating a throw home. With both players in no-man’s land, Kerr looked to run the 90 feet back to second base. 

Miami catcher Garrett Kennedy had Kerr in his crosshairs, but his throw went through the legs of shortstop Laz Rivera, allowing Endris to — finally — score. It would be the final run of the game.