A hot pitching duel on a chilly day at FIU Baseball Stadium was decided by baserunning. FIU knew when to go. Stony Brook didn’t know when to stop.
So FIU got the run it needed for a three-game series sweep of a 2012 College World Series participant, and Stony Brook left with a fading memory of what home plate looked like from the scoring side.
After the Sea Wolves scored four runs in the first four innings of the first game, FIU zeroed them out over the series’ last 23 innings.
“A lot of that, yes, is our pitching staff, but also them coming from up north,” FIU coach Turtle Thomas said. “It snowed three feet a week ago. You’ve got to get out and get your game at-bats. Like us. That’s why the game ended in about 2 hours 35 minutes [actually 2:33] because neither one of us hit the ball [Sunday].”
Combining for the shutout were junior starter Mike Franco, working on a 45-pitch count while being 10 months removed from Tommy John surgery; Alex Seibold, a freshman from Plantation American Heritage; junior Mitchell Davis, reprising his two innings of middle relief from Saturday’s second game; and senior closer Michael Gomez, who took care of the ninth again.
Franco got the win. In acknowledgement of his remarkable progress in recovering, the entire team left the dugout to greet Franco after his 2 2/3 innings, during which he allowed one hit, struck out four and got his fastball up to 94 mph.
“Everything was coming together little by little,” Franco said. “I can honestly say I felt better this first game than I have [in] the intrasquad games. So that’s a good sign.”
FIU scored the only run of the game in the first innnig. Sophomore Julius Gaines — who was 3 for 4 Sunday and 7 for 10 in the series — singled and went to third on Nathan Burns’ single. Josh Anderson’s blooper to right brought Gaines in for the winning run.
The closest Stony Brook came to tying produced a moment as comical as it was critical.
With two out in the fourth and Stony Brook’s Cole Peragine on first, Steven Goldstein ripped a drive inside the first base line and into the right field corner outside the foul line. Peragine rounded third and looked to be an 85-foot sprint from tying the game, but got held up by the third base coach as Burns retrieved the ball. Goldstein, obviously expecting Peragine to be sent home, continued steaming toward third.
Suddenly, there were too many Sea Wolves around third as the ball arrived. Peragine tried to make a belated break for the plate only to be tagged out by Anderson. Anderson actually missed the tag the first time, realized his error after he and Peragine had slowed, then tagged Peragine out.