Miami, Florida – The rally came up painfully short as the FAU Owls defeated the FIU Panthers 8-7 to win the four-game weekend series in thrilling fashion. FIU had the bases loaded in the ninth but Seth Cannady struck out on a borderline payoff pitch.  Matt Fernandez was on the hill for Florida International on Sunday, lasting five innings giving up four runs (three earned) on seven hits. Defensive miscues and ultimately a lack of hitting with runners in scoring position undermined the home team’s efforts. On two occasions Florida Atlantic scored on passed balls, mistakes that came back to bite the Panthers.

Late game pitching was also an issue. Angel Tiburcio was sent in for the ninth to keep it a one-run game. He gave up two runs on three hits with a walk. The team was great when it came to leadoff hitting (.444) and although they only recorded a pair of hits in two-out situations (.222) they made it count with four two-out RBIs. It just wasn’t enough.

This Ain’t No Pitcher’s Duel

Florida International jumped to an early 1-0 lead in the first. Ben Rozenblum hit it into the gap at left-center plating Derek Cartaya. Rozenblum eventually made his way home, scoring on a wild pitch by FAU starter Javi Rivera to make it 2-0.

A sudden rainstorm rolled into the area at the top of the second inning but true to Miami’s weather, the rain stopped as quickly as it started. By the time FIU came to the plate the sun was already shining.

The Owls would respond in the third. Nolan Schanuel’s hard grounder to Cartaya took a high hop getting past the shortstop. Schanuel’s double scored Florida Atlantic’s first run of the game. FAU notched another on a passed ball by the catcher Luis Chavez. Schanuel made it home on a two-bagger from Mitchell Hartigan.

The Panthers swiped back clawing two runs that same inning. Rozenblum sac flied to center scoring Dante Girardi while Chavez hit an RBI double through the left side to retake the lead. FIU had a chance to score more in the fourth. Girardi whiffed with runners at the corners to make it two outs. Cartaya, meanwhile, got hit by a pitch to load ’em but Adrian Figueroa struck out to end the inning.

Matt Fernandez found himself in a pickle after a pair of defensive miscues in the sixth. Girardi was unable to reel in a pop fly due to a combination of fighting the sun and the wind. This was followed by a grounder by Steven Loden between second and third that wasn’t fielded cleanly putting runners at the corners. Fernandez walked Jared DeSantolo to juice the bases ending his afternoon. Miguel Alba took over on the mound in relief.

Disappointing Ending

Pinch hitter Caleb Pendleton hit it deep enough toward center for the sac fly to drive in a run making it 4-4. Alba escaped the inning minimizing the damage. Florida Atlantic took the lead in the seventh with an RBI single from Nicholas Toney. The DH deflected it off FIU reliever Will Saxton. The ball rolled away, resulting in no real play on the throw to first as Schanuel scored again.

The Owls soared for three runs in the ninth to put away the Panthers. Angel Tiburcio was sent in to keep it a one-run game but Loden singled up the middle scoring Hartigan for the insurance run. Jalen DeBose then base hit to right field scoring Loden to make it 7-4. Florida Atlantic scratched one more on a passed ball to cap off their final trip to the plate.


Florida International did not go away, however. Cartaya was beaned a second time to load the bases for Figueroa. The freshman delivered, finding the gap at third base to drive in two runs. Rozenblum drew a walk to load them a second time for Chavez. The catcher walked as well to bring FIU to within a run. Unfortunately for the Panthers Cannady struck out looking on the payoff pitch to end both the rally and the game. Florida International lost three of four this weekend putting them at 16-24 (7-13, C-USA) overall. They will visit the Owls next weekend at Boca Raton. Keep it locked on Lemon City Live for continued coverage.

Game Notes

FAU scored eight runs on 12 hits, committing no errors

FIU scored seven runs on 11 hits, committing zero errors

LOB – FAU: 11, FIU: 7

Panthers with RISP: (2-for-9) .222

Adrian Figueroa: 2-for-5, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 Double

Been Rozenblum: 2-for-3, 1 R, 2 RBIs, 1 Double, 1 BB

Gus Bus Award

Figueroa went clutch in the ninth. Hitting .329 entering Sunday, the freshman is who you definitely wanted in that bases-loaded situation.

You’re Killing Me Smalls

The game ended in a controversial call by the home plate umpire Damien Beal but that’s no excuse for Tiburcio’s failure to keep the Owls from extending their lead in the ninth.

Photo Credit | Edwin Garcia

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Gabriel Garcia
Just an avid sports fan who happens to have a love-hate (mostly love) relationship with his local teams be it collegiate or professional and also happens to be a news junkie. Mix in outstanding optimism with cold realism and you've got yourself a balanced cocktail perfect for champions.

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