Miami, Florida – With only three outs to go, the FIU Panthers’ bullpen collapsed in the ninth inning, losing 15-6 to the Miami (OH) Redhawks in extras. The late-game relievers struggled mightily, going through six consecutive batters without recording an out. By the time they finally got it together, their lead evaporated. The spectacular rally by the Redhawks was the culmination of 15 unanswered runs to even the four-game weekend series.
FIU got on the board first with a pair of scores in the second inning. After Dante Girardi drew a walk to load the bases, Steven Ondina came through for the Panthers with a squeaky single through third, driving in Ben Rozenblum and Christian Eiroa.
— FIU Baseball (@FIUBaseball) February 28, 2021
The following frame saw Luis Chavez hit a single to bring Adrian Figueroa across the plate to extend the lead. Florida International had a chance to score more but Girardi whiffed with the bases juiced.
Defensive miscues by the Redhawks in the fourth led to another bases-loaded situation for the blue and gold. Seth Cannady singled to left field, advancing to second, tacking on two more runs. Chavez struck again with a base hit to right, capping off a three-run inning.
The visitors broke through with a deuce in the fifth. Starting pitcher Orlando Hernandez labored after striking out Parker Massman to start the frame, plunking two and issuing a walk. Jan Figueroa was called in from the bullpen but Will Vogelgesang knocked one into the outfield for run number one. Nate Stone lined out for the SAC fly RBI.
In the ninth, everything fell apart. The bullpen was unable to seal the deal as the Redhawks made their comeback. FIU reliever Garrett Rukes walked Stone to make it a three-run game and the following pop fly to centerfield was lost in the sun, reducing the deficit further. Neither Alec Sanchez nor RJ Ibanez could track it.
Nick Clark’s eventual sacrifice fly to center effectively tied it.
Momentum stayed on Miami’s side, exploding for nine more in the tenth which included two dingers from Nate Stone and Stephen Krause.
Overall Record – Miami (OH): 4-4 FIU: 4-3
Orlando Hernandez: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 8 Ks
Overall Hitting – Miami (OH): .372 (16-43), FIU: .211 (8-38)
FIU Runners in Scoring Position: .444 (4-9), Leadoff Hitting: .100 (1-10)
Florida International used a total of 9 pitchers in relief
Miami (OH) scored 15 runs on 16 hits committing one error
FIU scored six runs on eight hits, no errors
Gus Bus Award
Steven Ondina grabs it today, going 2 for 5 with two RBIs. His early clutch hitting helped.
You’re Killing Me Smalls
The late game relievers collectively grab this one. Pena, Rukes, Cortelli, Fletcher, and Lampton really dropped the ball. Only Steven Casey did his part.
Photo | Al Palacio