April 30, 2016
BOCA RATON, Fla. â€" CJ Chatham tallied five hits, five RBI, a triple and a home run and scored three times to lead the No. 17 Florida Atlantic University baseball team to a 9-4 victory and a series victory over No. 14 Southern Miss on Saturday.
"Absolutely fantastic game. I'm so proud of the guys," FAU Head Coach John McCormack said. "Right from the beginning we had great at-bats. Rhodes was really good, the bullpen was good and we played good defense. I couldn't be prouder of the guys."
The Owls (30-11, 14-6 C-USA) amassed 16 hits with Gunnar Lambert going 3-for-4 with two runs and Esteban Puerta tallying two hits. Senior Brandon Rhodes earned the win on the hill, with three runs on five hits in 6.2 innings and a pair of strikeouts. Sophomore Alex House picked up his first save, allowing one run over 2.1 innings in relief.
FAU loaded the bases in the bottom of the second on a walk to Sean Labsan and back-to-back singles by Lambert and Austin Langham. Stephen Kerr then stepped up to draw FAU's 14th bases-loaded, RBI walk of the year for the early 1-0 lead.
Chatham led off the third with a triple before scoring on a double by Esteban Puerta to double the lead to 2-0.
After Southern Miss (30-13, 14-6 C-USA) belted a solo home run on its first hit of the game in the fourth, two errors allowed Kerr to stand on third with one out. Christian Dicks then laced a sacrifice fly to bump the lead back to two.
Following another solo homer by the Golden Eagles in the sixth, Chatham and Dicks hit back-to-back singles and advanced to scoring position on a wild pitch. As Southern Miss was attempting to intentionally walk Sean Labsan, the first pitch sailed to the backstop and Chatham hustled across the plate to put the Owls up 4-2.
Again the Golden Eagles plated a run in the seventh, but FAU put the game away in the bottom of the inning. Lambert and Billy Endris walked before Chatham crushed his fifth home run of the year, a three-run shot to put FAU up 7-3.
The third solo homer by USM cut the lead to three, but Chatham's day wasn't done. With the bases loaded in the eighth, Chatham sent his fifth hit of the night through the left side to drive in two more, ending the onslaught at 9-4.
FAU will look for the sweep in an 11 a.m. contest Sunday with the winner taking the top spot in the Conference USA standings. A live video stream is available on FAUSports.com. For tickets, call 1-866-FAU-OWLS or FAUSports.com.