FIU Baseball Falls Late To Rice in Crucial ConferenceUSA Game

FIU Baseball Rice ConferenceUSA

HOUSTON, TX – After a disappointing ending to the homestand at FIU Baseball stadium, the stage was set versus Rice to make it to the ConferenceUSA tournament. FIU would need to take two out of three against the Rice Owls and FAU would need to take two out of three against the UAB. Only half of that statement was accomplished. The FAU Owls beat UAB to a final score of 16-5. On the other end, the Panthers’ four errors on defense cost them the game. They now find themselves in a do-or-die situation.

FIU gave Daniel Mcauliff the ball to start the game off as an opener, but after 1.2 innings of work, Angel Tiburcio took over. Mcauliff, gave up five hits, five runs, one walk, and only managed to strike out one. As for Tiburcio, he looked for better and arguably could’ve started the game from the start and possibly could’ve limited the damage. Going 4.1 innings, striking out three, walking one, and only giving up two runs (one earned), the team’s best starter did what he had to do and kept FIU within reach.

The FIU offense got it going very early on in the game as Ryne Guida crushed a three-run homer to give FIU the early 3-0 lead. Guida ended up having a three-hit night and is now one RBI away from reaching 50 RBIs on the season. Moving forward, the Panthers played small ball and it worked. In the top of the fourth, Brendan Roney was hit-by-a-pitch, Ceasar Franco smacked a double to move up, and after Henry Wallen struck out, Dante Girardi ran into a fielders choice that scored Roney and cut the Rice lead to 5-4. With two outs in the inning, Alec Sanchez smacked an RBI single to drive in Franco and tie the game at five apiece.

Small-ball would be the name of the game for both teams moving forward. In the top of the sixth inning, the Panthers would tack on one more run thanks to Alec Sanchez’s sac fly after base hits from Wallen, Girardi, and Rosario. In the top of the eighth inning, FIU would score their final run thanks to Alec Sanchez once again had a sac fly to drive in Dante Girardi who had a double and moved to third after Mike Rosario flew out. Sanchez’s second sac fly would tie the game at seven apiece.

Unfortunately, that would be the final run the Panthers would score. In the bottom of the eighth inning, FIU would go with Ryan Cabarcas who has seen himself in this position before. After allowing a base hit and a walk, the Owls played small ball. Max Johnson grounded out, but that put the runner on second to third and with the possibility to take the lead. With two outs in the inning, Cabrarcas throws a wild pitch that gives Rice the first of two runs scored in the inning. The final run came in on a Connor Walsh RBI single to drive in the ninth and final run of the game.

FIU was unable to get anything going in the ninth inning as they dropped game one of the three-game set and put themselves in a tough spot. Win, and you’re still in it, lose and your season is over. Although there isn’t an announced pitcher, coach Witten went with Kevin Martin last Saturday and he pitched a gem, so expect him to be the guy to go for the Panthers in a must-win game.

 

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