MONROE, La. - A seven-run second inning and a steady effort by starting pitcher Randy Zeigler powered the ULM baseball team to a 13-5 win over No. 28 Florida Atlantic Saturday night at Warhawk Field, evening the weekend series at one game apiece.
The Warhawks scattered 13 hits against the top-ranked team in the Sun Belt Conference and added five extra base hits against Florida Atlantic pitching. The 13 team strikeouts registered by the ULM pitching staff set a season-high.
The Warhawks (17-18, 5-9 SBC) scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning after Florida Atlantic shortstop Mitch Morales misplayed a ground ball off the bat of Taylor Abdalla, allowing Jeremy Sy and Joey Rapp to score and give ULM a 2-0 lead. Starter Jake Meiers (2-4) forced Brandon Alexander to ground out back to the mound to end the frame.
Zeigler (4-4) ran into trouble in the top of the second inning, walking Alex Hudak and Geoff Jimenez on nine combined pitches to give the Owls (23-13, 11-3 SBC) their first runner in scoring position. Zeigler struck out Mike Spano looking and forced Morales to chop out to Judd Edwards at third base for the final outs of the inning.
ULM struck early and often in the bottom of the second, kick started by a Corben Green two-run home run. Green blasted a 2-2 offering from Meiers over the right field wall, pushing the Warhawk cushion to 4-0. Caleb Clowers then laced a one-out single up the middle and advanced to third base on a double down the right field line off the bat of Sy. A full-count walk to Rapp loaded the bases for Abdalla, who ripped the first pitch he saw into the left field corner, plating Clowers and Sy on a double of his own to up the lead to 6-0. An Alexander single to left scored the fifth and sixth runs of the frame (8-0), before Edwards rapped a single over the head of Morales at shortstop for the inning's seventh run to chase Meiers from the game (9-0).
Mark Nelson lined a 1-1 Zeigler offering up the middle in the top of the fourth inning to give Florida Atlantic its first hit of the night. Zeigler answered by striking out Kyle Newton and forcing Hudak and Jimenez to fly out to Abdalla in right field consecutively to retire the last three Owls in order.
The Warhawks tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, the first on an Edwards single through the right side that plated Abdalla and extended the ULM lead to 10-0. A wild pitch from Florida Atlantic's Josh Gonzaga allowed Alexander to score from third base (11-0).
Florida Atlantic scored its first run of the contest in the top of the fifth, as Mike Albaladejo roped a one-out double into left field to plate Spano (11-1). Corey Keller then delivered a single to right center off Zeigler, scoring Albaladejo to close the deficit to nine runs (11-2).
The Owls touched Zeigler up for two hits in the top of the sixth inning, but the ULM starter struck out the side to keep Florida Atlantic off the scoreboard and the Warhawks in front 11-3.
Zeigler walked Jimenez with the bases loaded and one out to push across the fourth Florida Atlantic run of the game in the top of the seventh (11-4), but bounced back to strike out Spano and Ricky Santiago swinging to escape the frame.
Zeigler allowed four earned runs in his seven full innings of work, walking four batters and tying a career-high with 11 strikeouts.
Edwards provided the Warhawks with some insurance in the bottom of the seventh inning, depositing a 1-1 pitch from Julian Loret de Mola into the student section behind the left field wall for a two-run home run (13-4).
Edwards paced the ULM offense with three hits, four RBIs and two runs scored, while Alexander added three base hits, two RBIs and scored three times. Abdalla and Green also finished with two runs batted in.
Meiers allowed nine runs (seven earned) on seven hits in his 1.2 innings pitched to take the loss.
The rubber match of the weekend series will be contested at a special 12 p.m. start time Sunday at Warhawk Field.