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Owls pull upset, eliminate No. 4 FIU

Florida International’s first trip to the Sun Belt Conference Baseball Championship since 2006 did not last long, as the Golden Panthers lost their second straight game Thursday morning.

FIU (34-23) came into the tournament as the fourth seed, but fell to in-state rival and No. 8 Florida Atlantic, 16-6 by mercy rule in eight innings in an elimination game.

FAU (30-25) led 4-3 heading into the fourth inning, but was able to blow the game open with a six-run inning in the fourth.

FAU head coach John McCormack said that the six-run inning was the turning point in the game.

“It gave us some breathing room and really put their backs against the wall,” McCormack said.

Jeremy Griffiths drove in the first run of the six with an RBI double to left center field.

Travis Ozga had a two-RBI triple and Nick DelGuidice had a two-run homer later in the inning.

Anthony Mesa capped off the big inning with an RBI single to put FAU up 10-3.

Griffiths continued to drive in runs the rest of the day, going 3-for-5 with five RBIs.

Griffiths credits some adjustments to his swing for his good day at the dish.

“I, for the first time in the season, feel like my swing is actually where it needs to be,” he said.

Ozga was also heard from again in the day, as he hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning that put the Owls up by 10 and ended the game.

FAU starter Mike Gipson threw a complete game, giving up seven hits and striking out seven.

Gipson did allow a pair of solo home runs in the seventh inning and another solo shot in the eighth, but two of those were over the short porch in right field.

“With this park, you’re going to hit some and you’re going to give some up, so you just shake your head and move to the next hitter,” McCormack said.

FAU will take on No. 1 Middle Tennessee for the second time in three days in an elimination game today at 9 a.m.

The Golden Panthers were eliminated with the loss.