WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – In one of the longest games in the 19-year history of Felician University baseball, the Golden Falcons were defeated by host Palm Beach Atlantic University, 8-7, in 13 innings on Thursday night at Jake Rubin Park.
Senior first baseman Kyle Simon (Colorado Springs, Colo.) came up with an RBI single up the middle with no one out in the bottom of the 13th to give Palm Beach Atlantic (14-5) its eighth consecutive victory. The Sailfish are ranked No. 6 in the most recent NCAA Division II South Region writers' poll.
The contest, which lasted four hours, 41 minutes, was just the fifth in Felician history of 13 innings or more. Golden Falcon junior right fielder Jason Aponte (Loxahatchee, Fla.) was 3 for 6 with a three-run home run, and classmate L.T. Struble (Hammonton, N.J.) went 2 for 7 with a three-run triple.
Aponte's blast, his first homer of the season, gave Felician (2-11) a 7-5 lead after five innings. But the Golden Falcons' pitching wildness, which eventually led to 14 walks and two hit batsmen, became its undoing. PBA senior Ryan Johnson (Lake Worth, Fla.) scored on a one-out wild pitch in the sixth to chop the hosts' deficit in half.
The 7-6 score held until the ninth, when Sailfish junior Connor Rowland (Boca Raton, Fla.) led off with a triple. The Golden Falcons turned to freshman Michael Gutierrez (Garfield, N.J.), their fourth pitcher of the night. Almost immediately, Gutierrez uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Rowland to scamper home with the tying run. He then struck out the next three hitters.
Both teams placed runners on third base with one out in the 10th but failed to score, with Gutierrez escaping a bases-loaded jam. In the 13th, with Gutierrez (1-2) still on the hill, Johnson drew a leadoff walk, was sacrificed to second base, and continued to third on a throwing error. Simon's hit then ended the game.
Mikhail Cazenave (Gadsden, Ala.) (6-2), the last of eight Sailfish pitchers, tossed the top of the 13th to earn the victory. Senior Mac Hennessy (Weston, Fla.) preceded Cazenave with 2 2/3 hitless frames. PBA struck out 16 Golden Falcon hitters on the night.
The Sailfish plated four first inning runs, but Struble's bases-clearing triple capped a tying, four-run second for the Golden Falcons. PBA scored a single run in the bottom of the second and remained in the lead until Aponte's home run.
Rowland finished 3 for 5 and scored twice for the Sailfish. Felician's Bruce Strickland (Hazlet, N.J.) was 2 for 5.
Felician faces a quick turnaround. The Golden Falcons play an East Region game against Southern Connecticut State University at 11 a.m. on Friday in Lantana, Fla., before heading to Miami Shores for a 6 p.m. first pitch versus Barry University.