Round 1 of the Battle for the 305: FIU Panthers vs. UM Hurricanes

FIU Panthers UM Hurricanes

Photo by Chris Perez and Danis Sosa


Miami, Florida – The first battle of four between the FIU Panthers and UM Hurricanes has arrived with the Canes hosting at Mark Light Field. Preview time! Five weeks into the season, both teams have had their share of ups and downs displaying similar records. Each is coming off a series win, looking to build momentum heading into their first weekend on the road. The Hurricanes have tried to make the most of a very long homestand. 18 of their last 19 games were played at the Light winning 11 during that span. After tomorrow’s matchup, they’ll head to South Bend to face Notre Dame.

Florida International rides in hoping to extend their winning streak to three. However, the Panthers have yet to win on the road and need to overcome a 10-game losing streak against Miami. The last time the Blue and Gold won was on April 25th, 2018 beating UM 14-6 at Coral Gables.

The season so far

Batting UM Hurricanes FIU Panthers
Runs 172 152
Batting Average .311 .291
Homeruns 42 29
Strikeouts 156 169
Slugging % .573 .473
Pitching UM Hurricanes FIU Panthers
ERA 5.80 5.91
Opponent Avg .275 .260
Homeruns 31 31
Walks 73 91
Strikeouts 187 187

Florida International began their campaign with a sweep of Long Island followed by a bad loss to Bethune-Cookman and a four-game series split with the Fighting Irish. The Panthers also forged another split with Seton Hall the following weekend before getting revenge on the Wildcats. They lost their first series against Florida Atlantic and then dropped their first meeting with Florida Gulf Coast. FIU bounced back to open conference play taking two out of three versus Middle Tennessee in a shootout-filled weekend that saw 59 runs scored. The Panthers are currently 11-9 (2-1, C-USA) including 0-3 on the road and 1-2 in midweek games.

The Canes, meanwhile, also started 2024 with a sweep of New Jersey before stumbling versus Central Florida. Unlike FIU, the Hurricanes let one slip hosting Long Island, taking two out of three before losing to the FGCU in extras. The Florida Gators rolled into town representing the program’s first big test of the season. Miami managed to steal a game avoiding the brooms. They won their first midweek matchup with a big rally against Stonehill succeeded by two straight weekend series wins over top-15 opponents Virginia and North Carolina. In between the victories UM lost to FAU falling to 1-3 in midweek contests. Similarly, the Cardiac Canes are 11-8 (4-2, ACC).

Players to watch

If you like potentially high-scoring affairs, you won’t be disappointed. The crosstown rivals’ greatest strength is their hitting. Led by junior transfers Alex Ulloa and Brylan West, the Florida natives have put the hurt on the ball. Ulloa hails from Miami Dade College slashing .388/.474/.597 including four home runs and 16 RBIs. Arriving from South Florida State College, West is churning at a .370/.500/.616 clip consisting of three dingers and 18 RBIs. He leads the team in doubles and is tied for the most walks and hit-by-pitch. That’s one way of getting on base. Another transfer by the name of Chase Engelhard reinforces the offense. The senior spent three seasons at Tulane before bringing his talent to South Florida brandishing a .327 batting average. It’s not just the transfers producing. Veteran Ryne Guida continues to contribute hitting .319 with three homers and 19 RBIs.

Miami has its own quartet. Freshman phenom Daniel Cuvet is swinging a blistering .395 despite going ice-cold this past weekend. Cuvet is one of the top producers in UM’s lineup leading the team with nine home runs and 26 RBIs. Jason Torres showed glimmers of his ability at the plate last year in a small 36 at-bat sample size (hit .472). The sophomore is raking with a batting average of .449 and a 1.315 OPS involving eight round-trippers and 24 RBIs. Lorenzo Carrier checks in with a .326 average at the dish. Carrier has launched three out of the park thus far knocking in 11. Lastly, the Canes have Dorian Gonzalez Jr. who is no stranger to being the walk-off hero. Gonzalez stands on a .312 batting average with four home runs and is tied with Cuvet for the most RBIs (26).

Prediction

Pitching is certainly the weakness of both teams. In Florida International’s case, this extends into their starting rotation. We’re likely looking at a bullpen game and probably at least ten runs. It will come down to who’s relievers falter. Before the start of the season, I felt FIU could legitimately split the season series. Now, I still think they can steal one from the Hurricanes but Miami should win most of the games. The Cardiac Canes will get the dub on Tuesday night.

Final score: 9-6.

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