Top-ranked University of Miami came into Wednesday night’s baseball matchup with Florida Atlantic having won 24 of its previous 27 games.
But there’s something about playing a South Florida neighbor (more or less), not to mention one ranked 17th in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll and 21st by Baseball America, that makes a midweek, non-conference game take on a bit more urgency.
It didn’t seem that way for the first seven innings and the score knotted at 2 — until the Owls of Boca Raton scraped away in the eighth with two runs on a walk, two hit batters, an RBI single by Sean Labsan and an RBI groundout by Austin Langham to go up 4-2 and notch an eventual 4-3 victory at Mark Light Field.
The Canes had their chances but could only get one in the bottom of the eighth after starting the inning with runners on first and second following a walk and hit batter. With Carl Chester on first and Johnny Ruiz on second, Zack Collins and Jacob Heyward struck out. Brandon Lopez’s subsequent single scored Chester before Willie Abreu flied out to deep left.
“FAU played better than us,” UM coach Jim Morris said. “They deserve to win. Their team is ranked. They got big hits when they needed them and we didn’t, and that was the difference in the game.”
FAU was 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position and UM was 2 for 10.
The Owls (27-8) were led by Labsan, who was 2 for 2 with the RBI and two walks. Stephen Kerr — a Margate resident out of Coral Springs Charter — led off the third with a home run to left. FAU’s Alex House pitched one inning for the win.
The Hurricanes, who had only five hits, dropped to 29-6. Andrew Cabezas, who also pitched one inning, took the first loss of his career.
“I thought we came out good,” Abreu said. “[Starting pitcher] Jesse [Lepore] was keeping us close the whole game. We just weren’t able to get that big hit.’’
FIU senior Meghan MacLaren claimed the Conference USA individual title for the second year in a row, shooting a 3-under-par 69 on the final day of the C-USA Women’s Golf Championships from the Verandah Club’s Old Orange course in Fort Myers.
Entering the final round at even par, the Cambridge, England, native made five birdies to finish at 3-under 213 for her third conference title (2015 C-USA, 2013 Sun Belt). MacLaren joins Moira Dunn (1991-93) as the school’s only three-time individual conference champions. The Panthers finished in sixth place.
SWIMMING AN DIVING
UM swimming coach Andy Kershaw and diving coach Randy Ableman announced the addition of five student-athletes for the 2016-17 season. Swimmers Chantal Noe (Ruesselheim, Germany), Ilianna Oikonomou (Athens, Greece), Claire McGinnis (Oakland Township, Michigan) and Leah Brown (Lansdale, Pennsylvania), as well as diver Alicia Blagg (Wakefield, England) will compete for the Hurricanes beginning this fall.
This report was supplemented with Miami Herald staff reports.