Rain postponed Friday’s FIU season opener to Saturday. Malfunctioning left-field lights darkened Saturday’s nightcap. But in sweeping 2012 College World Series participant Stony Brook on Saturday, FIU got timely hitting and incandescent pitching.
The bookend pitching Mikes in the 10-4 and 3-0 wins, first game starter Ellis and second game closer Gomez, count as known quantities for the Panthers. Between them, however, four pitchers — junior Ty Sullivan, freshman Dillon Maya, junior Tyler Alexander, junior Mitchell Davis — making their first Division I appearances, squashed Stony Brook’s offense: zero runs on six hits in a combined 13 innings. The four struck out 16 and walked 10.
“[Mitchell Davis] had electric stuff [Saturday night],” FIU coach Turtle Thomas said. “As did Tyler Alexander and Mike Gomez as well. All three of those guys threw tremendous baseball games.”
In both games, the pivotal offensive burst involved senior right fielder Nathan Burns, who went 2 for 5 with four RBI in the first game and 3 for 4 with one RBI in the second.
“It was fun sitting in the dugout and watching him tear those guys up on the field,” Sullivan said. “The whole team was outstanding [Saturday].”
In the first game, after Sullivan helped himself end a minor threat by starting an inning-ending double play, FIU entered the bottom of the sixth tied 4-4. Sophomore Oscar Aguirre’s cloud-tapping pop up and the wind fooled Stony Brook shortstop Cole Peragine to open the inning. A walk to Julius Gaines and a sacrifice bunt by Tyler Hibbert set up second and third with one out. Burns singled to right to put FIU up 6-4.
Sullivan struck out the side on 10 pitches in the seventh. FIU put the game away with a seventh-inning two-out rally of five hits — Gaines’ double to center field preceded by singles from Zach Sweety, Aguirre and succeeded by Hibbert’s and Burns’ singles — that produced four runs.
In the second game, Alexander dueled with Stony Brook’s fast-working Frankie Vanderka. Both went six innings and gave up four hits and zero runs.
FIU catcher Aramis Garcia and Edwin Rios singled to open the seventh. T.J. Shantz’s deep fly out to left field brought in Garcia. Burns extended the 1-0 lead in the eighth with a single to right that brought in Gaines. Josh Anderson tripled Burns around to give Gomez a 3-0 buffer zone.
The series ends with a 1 p.m. game Sunday.