FIU Baseball in Midst of Tailspin, Blown out by FGCU

FGCU FIU Baseball

Kevin Barral/Lemon City Live


Miami, FL – On a windy night on campus, the FIU Panthers looked to make it two wins in a row against the nationally ranked FGCU Baseball Eagles. On the mound for the Panthers was Joel Pinerio, making his first start of the season. For FGCU, Jackson Woodward takes the mound.

FIU held their own against FGCU early, but the Eagles quickly showed why they’re considered one of the best teams in the nation. The Panthers did well to keep up, but it wasn’t enough to keep up as FGCU routed to a score of 12-5.

Fort Meyers Strikes First

FGCU wasted no time getting to Pineiro, who was unable to finish the first inning. He hit the first two batters which set the stage for Joe Kinker who got a hit and loaded the bases with no outs. Then, third baseman Alejandro Figuerdo hit an RBI double which scored two runs, giving the Eagles an early 2-0 lead. That is when Pinerio would be removed from the game in place of Bryan Pazos.

Pazos entered the game with a runner on second and third with only one out. Edrick Felix hit a sac fly which drove in another run, but this one was counted toward Pinerio which is why he finished with three runs given up in total. Pazos was able to strike out Stephen Wilmer to end the inning, but FGCU got the early 3-0 lead.

The Cats Don’t Hold Back

If there is one thing that we can be sure of, it is that the FIU Panthers offense is consistent. After Mike Rosario struck out, Marcus O’Malley hit a single and ended up being the first runner driven in against the FGCU Eagles.

Dante Girardi was riding an 11-game hit streak and was able to add to it with a double which moved O’Malley to third and set the stage for center fielder Alec Sanchez, who grounded out to second base, but that was enough to O’Malley home.

With one out in the inning, slugger Ryne Guida smacked an RBI double that drove in Dante Girardi. FIU adds on two runs to cut the lead down and begin an offensive show.

Bang Bang, the Eagles Respond

Just when you thought Pazos would get into a groove, that did not happen. He gave up two home runs in the next inning. The first homer was hit by shortstop Jacob Lojewski, and the second was by Harrison Povey. FGCU extended their lead to 5-2.

Nothing gets by FIU’s Bats

After the bottom of the first, the Panthers didn’t produce much offensively but did manage to get on base a couple of times and threaten to score. In the bottom of the fifth inning, FIU finally cut the deficit to down two runs.

Steven Ondina got a hit and stole second base. Then, the University of Miami transfer Mike Rosario hit an RBI single to score Ondina. Rosario advanced to second right after the throw to home was made. FGCU still led 5-3, but the Panthers were well in it.

Kevin Martin Shines on the Mound

After the struggles of Pinerio and Pazos earlier in the game, the Panthers went with reliever Kevin Martin who shined. He struck out five through three innings of work. Martin did not allow a run or a hit to the FGCU offense, which is statistically one of the hottest in the nation as of late.

FGCU Delivers the Dagger

After the top of the second inning, Florida Gulf Coast’s fiery offense was shut down until the top of the seventh. With runners on first and second and two outs, Joe Kinker smacked an RBI double that drove in both Eagles. Right after, Alejandro Rodriguez hit an RBI single that scored Kinker. FGCU now led by a score of 8-3.

One inning later, FGCU added on and scored one more run thanks to a Brian Ellis RBI double. With two runners on base, Figueredo then hit a three-run bomb to give the Eagles a very comfortable 12-3 lead.

Final: FGCU 12, FIU 5

After FGCU’s many runs scored, FIU was able to get two final runs in the bottom of the ninth. Besides the two runs scored, Dylan Wolff was able to get out of the mini jam that he got himself into and FGCU beat FIU.

Game Notes and quotes

After the game, we had the opportunity to speak to Manager Rich Witten, Second Baseman Dante Girardi, and reliever Kevin Martin…

Steven Ondina was taken out of the game midway and there was no update at the time, but coach did mention that he “tweaked” something.

When I asked Dante Girardi about his 12-game hitting streak, he said that it feels good and nothing has changed for Girardi mechanically. “I think it was just a feel thing,” said Dante after asking him if a change in hitting mechanics played a role in his streak. “Dante has seen the ball great right now… He’s in the zone,” said Manager Rich Witten when asking him about Girardi’s success these past two weeks.

Kevin Martin who had the best outing tonight for the FIU pitching staff told us that tonight he went out there with a different mentality. “I kind of went in there with the mindset I was just going to go ahead and get everybody. Four strikes and it worked out.” When asking Rich Witten on Martin’s outing he told us that they believe in him are would like to use him in the back half of the season more.

Joel Pinero was unable to get out of the first inning tonight. Rich Witten told us that he was on a pitch count and wasn’t going to be kept much longer in the game even if the runs hadn’t gone in.

Finally, FIU had nine hits today and was able to score only five runs out of that. FGCU had 10 hits and scored 12 runs. When asking coach Witten about the offense tonight he said it was “pathetic.”

“It was a pathetic offensive performance. You know, in a midweek game, you know, when teams are throwing some different arms to make sure they’re fresh for the weekend. There are games that you get to go out there and out-hit somebody who’d be ready to go offensively and win a game with your bats you know, we didn’t do that tonight.”

What’s Next?

FIU now has an off-day tomorrow (Thursday) and continues conference play on Friday against UAB who has a record of 5-15. The projected starters for this weekend are still unknown but expect to see the usual guys out there. As for us, in-person coverage will be back on Saturday and Tuesday at Coral Gables.

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