FAU had multiple chances to win Wednesday's opening game of the Sun Belt tournament as they staged multiple rallies, but it was Western Kentucky that put together the deciding rally to win 11-10 in 12 innings.
FAU was one out away from a win the 11th and 12th innings but allowed the Hilltoppers to escape with the win.
FAU had come back from a 6-2 deficit to send the game into extra innings at Warhawks Field in Monroe, La.
And they had taken an 8-6 lead in the top of the 11th and had the Sun Belt's top closer on the mound in Hugh Adams, who had collected 10 saves in the regular season.
Adams got the first two outs, putting the Owls an out away from a stirring comeback win.
But Adams allowed two runs when he hit a batter, and then allowed a triple and single.
FAU rallied again and took a 10-8 lead in the top of the 12th, but Adams went out and blew his second chance as Western Kentucky had the final rally and beat FAU 11-10 by scoring three runs with two outs.
It was a heartbreaking loss for the Owls and devastating one since they are now 0-1 in pool play and used up much of their bullpen and they face No. 1 seed Troy Thursday at 8 p.m.
No. 5 seed FAU and No. 4 WKU finished the season with identical records -- 32-22, 17-13 in Sun Belt with the Hilltoppers earning the higher seed because they won two of the three games they played during the regular season.
Lost in the loss was the clutch hitting of Nick DelGuidice and Raymond Church.
DelGuidice had the key hit in two of the rallies, hitting a two-run double in the eighth. FAU was down 6-2 heading into the eighth, but would score three to cut it to 6-5.
Church hit a solo home run in the ninth to tie it at 6-6 and send it into extra innings.
DelGuidice then hit a two-run home run in the top of the 11th to give FAU an 8-6 lead.
And Church hit an RBI double in the top of the 12th, as FAU rallied for two runs to take a 10-8 lead.
But Adams couldn't hold down the Hilltoppers.
Also wasted was the five scoreless innings pitched by the three relievers who preceded Adams Ahmed Garcia, Taylor Everist and Andy Mee. They held WKU off the scoreboard from the sixth through 10th inning, allowing the offense to get the Owls back in it.
WKU took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third on a solo home run by Ivan Hartle and RBI single that scored Jared Andreoli.
After Mee got a leadoff single in the first inning, WKU starter Tanner Perkins retired 10 straight Owls before Raymond Church singled in the fourth inning with one out.
That started a rally, as Dan Scheffler singled and then Perkins hit Alex Hudak with a pitch to load the bases.
FAU was able to tie the game at 2-2 on an RBI single by DelGuidice and sacrifice fly by Eddie Cassidy.
Garton reached the 90-pitch mark in the fifth inning, which is when he got into serious trouble, as a single, hit batter and walk loaded the bases with one out.
FAU coach John McCormack decided to let Garton try and pitch out of the dilemma, and Garton got one out on a nice play when he barehanded a ground ball and threw home to beat the runner.
But with two outs Logan Robbins hit a no-doubt grand slam to left and the Hilltoppers jumped out to a 6-2 lead after five innings.
The grand slam came one pitch after Garton and catcher Mike Albaladejo thought they had gotten strike three on Robbins, but the home plate umpire disagreed.
It was Robbins fourth home run of the season and first of his career.
Down 6-2, FAU rallied in the eighth, as Church singled and Alex Hudak doubled and they both scored on a double by DelGuidice to cut the lead to 6-4.
Western Kentucky used one of its starting pitchers, Justin Hageman, to try and snuff out the rally, and he was able to do get one out, but Albaladejo hit an RBI single to cut the lead to 6-5 with two outs.
That set the scene for Church's game-tying blast in the ninth and DelGuidice's home run in the 11th that looked like it would be the game-winner, until the Hilltoppers started their own extra-inning rallies that eventually would give them the win.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun