Miami, Florida – The George Mason Patriots broke the deadlock with three runs in the fifth defeating the FIU Panthers 5-2 clinching opening weekend. Angel Tiburcio faced off against southpaw Ryan Peterson in what was initially a low-run affair. Florida International was unable to capitalize on its scoring chances failing to achieve a big inning of its own. The Blue and Gold stranded six runners including a bases-loaded situation in the fifth.
Despite a solid four innings of work from Tiburcio, the bullpen faltered near the midway point. The Patriots took advantage of Orlando Hernandez’s mistakes, finding gaps in the field with their timely hitting. The loss drops FIU to 1-2 in the nascent season.
Covering @FIUBaseball today, Angel Tiburcio on the mound for the Panthers. FIU trying to clinch the weekend series vs. George Mason. Game is tied at the bottom of the second. #PawsUp pic.twitter.com/ArNqGnMcx5
— Gabriel Garcia (@Gabewritesports) February 19, 2023
FIU jumped to an early lead in the first scratching a run. Ryne Guida slapped a double off the left-field wall that James Quinn-Irons had some trouble fielding, plating Dante Girardi. The Patriots struck back with a solo homer to left field powered by Quinn-Irons himself. The score remained static until the fifth when the Patriots rumbled ahead cranking out three runs.
We strike first!
Guida hits a double off the left field wall to drive in Girardi!
B1 – FIU 1, George Mason 0#PawsUp
— FIU Baseball (@FIUBaseball) February 19, 2023
Hernandez substituted Tiburcio in relief retiring Brady Powell to begin his relief appearance. He ran into trouble soon after that. Derek Wood doubled to left, stealing third. Hernandez then beaned South Trimble on a 1-2 count placing runners at the corners. Brett Stallings successfully laid out a solid sacrifice bunt allowing Wood to score. Building on the momentum, Jordan Smith managed to poke one up the middle just out of Steven Ondina’s reach scoring Trimble. Challenging Ronny Medina’s arm, Smith swiped second setting up Mark Trotta for the RBI single.
Florida International loaded the bases that same inning but only came away with a solitary run. Girardi grounded into a double play as Ondina crossed the plate reducing the deficit to 4-2.
The Panthers nearly made it a one-run game after the seventh-inning stretch. With a runner in scoring position, Alec Sanchez singled up the middle only for Medina to get easily thrown out at home. The catcher tried to make something happen when he wheeled around third woefully underestimating the opponent’s arm.
The frustration continued in the eighth. With Girardi shadowing third, pinch-hitter Marcus O’Malley harmlessly popped out to second base.
𝑱𝒖𝒔𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒃𝒆𝒈𝒊𝒏𝒏𝒊𝒏𝒈
— Mason Baseball (@MasonBaseball) February 19, 2023
Opening weekend could’ve gone better but the boys don’t seem too dejected. They can easily bounce back in their next home game versus Bethune Cookman. The pitching wasn’t terrible it’s just that the hitting could not execute on certain plays especially when there were runners in scoring position. Onto the next one.
Gus Bus Award
Angel Tiburcio did his part only giving up a solo home run. Wish he lasted a bit longer though.
You’re Killing Smalls
The offense collectively gets this one. There weren’t a lot of chances but man, a win remained within reach all the way to the end. George Mason slipped away from the FIU Panthers.
Photo by Diego Navia – FIU Athletics