Missouri Tigers slam 3 HRs, take 3 out of 4 from FIU Panthers

Missouri Tigers FIU Panthers

Photo by - FIU Athletics


Miami, Florida – The Missouri Tigers could not be contained outlasting the FIU Panthers 9-5 capping off a very successful series winning all but the opener. Reliever Cameron Knox took the mound in his first start of the season. Knox faced Rorik Maltrud, another bullpen guy who was also tapped to open the game.

Mizzou held the advantage in the first half of the contest, relying on the long ball to keep the Panthers at arm’s length. FIU’s bats struggled unable to record their first hit until the fifth inning. They got to within one run thanks to a big sixth only for the Tigers to respond with four of their own in the seventh. The loss drops Florida International to 3-5. Their next game will be on Tuesday at Florida Gulf Coast.

Falling behind

The Missouri Tigers quickly got on the board with a leadoff homerun from third baseman Luke Mann. It was the senior’s second dinger of 2023. Alec Sanchez almost tied it that same inning smacking one deep to left, however, it was not enough as Trevor Austin caught it on the warning track. Mizzou flashed the lumber again in inning number two with a two-run round-tripper courtesy of second baseman Matt Garcia.

Mike Rosario made a great leaping catch at the wall in the third inning denying Hank Zeisler an RBI hit. Mizzou flashed some glove of its own via Ty Wilmsmeyer robbing Steven Ondina keeping FIU hitless through three.

Florida International had a bit of a scare when Sanchez just missed making a great play crashing full speed into the wall. Although he was slow to get up, Alec walked off on his own power to be evaluated by team trainers. Dalton Bargo recorded an RBI triple for the 4-0 lead.

Ryne Guida rocketed a double off the wall ending Maltrud’s no-hitter. It led to a pitching change. Daniel Wissler took over in relief retiring the next three hitters to strand Guida. FIU threatened again in the sixth with two on and one out resulting in another Mizzou pitching swap. Kyle Potthoff fanned Robert Sotolongo but surrendered back-to-back hits soon after. Dante Girardi poked a seeing-eye single up the middle scoring Ondina followed by a two-run double from Guida to make it 4-3.

Momentum shifter

Mizzou wrestled back control with a big two-out rally in the seventh. Reliever CJ McKennitt found himself in a bases-loaded pickle with one gone facing Austin. The left fielder hit a one-hopper to the pitcher but the Panthers failed to turn the double play. Austin legged out the throw for the insurance run, scoring Mann on the fielder’s choice. Things went from bad to worse when Zeisler smashed one down the right field line just inside the foul pole for the 3-run bomb. Leading 8-3 the Tigers snatched the Panthers’ momentum out from under them.

Florida International did not go quietly. Pinch-hitter Marcus O’Malley nearly homered with two men in scoring position, settling for a two-bagger off the wall driving home both Rosario and Ondina. The effort was in vain as the visitors hung on scratching an additional insurance run in the ninth.

Impressions

The team will wait until tomorrow for a diagnosis regarding Sanchez. Eight games in the pitching staff have given up a dozen home runs. Not a good statistic but to be expected. Luckily, the guys are in the midst of a very long homestand. Encouragingly enough, this series was pretty competitive, especially against an SEC opponent. On a bit of a lighter side to things, man the wall got more action than a senior citizen in a retirement home with two collisions and a number of balls slamming into it. Overall, it was a fun series between the Missouri Tigers and FIU Panthers.

Gus Bus Award

Going 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and just as many RBIs, Guida now leads the team with a .414 batting average. Great stuff so far from the kiddo.

You’re Killing Me Smalls

Adrian Figueroa is off to a slow start to the season, going hitless in today’s game. Fig is currently hitting .241 on the year.

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