FIU greeted Manhattan, playing its first game of the season, with the first appearance by the Panthers’ offense since FIU’s season opener last week.
A 14-4 rout of the Jaspers broke the Panthers’ 28-inning silence. After scoring 10 runs in the first seven innings against Stony Brook last week, the Panthers managed only four runs in two wins against Stony Brook and a Wednesday loss to Bethune-Cookman.
“If you’re going to go anywhere as a team, you have to be able to beat the Friday night type of [pitcher],” FIU coach Turtle Thomas said. “Stony Brook had two Friday type of guys. Bethune-Cookman, on Wednesday, threw their Friday guy. You’ve got to be able to beat the good pitchers or find a way to get it done. We did a little bit better job swinging the bat. We swung at too many bad pitches early and later started swinging at better pitches and started making them get the ball over the plate.”
Mike Ellis got the victory despite giving up four runs in 5 2/3 innings. Mitchell Davis pitched 2 1/3 innings, striking out three, to set up freshman Jason Morozowski’s ninth.
Everybody got into the act. Eight Panthers had hits, seven Panthers managed an RBI. Second baseman T.J. Shantz came into the game 0 for 13 this season and went 2 for 5 with two RBI.
“I was starting to worry I wouldn’t get a hit all season,” Shantz joked. “We were more selective [Friday]. For those couple of games, we were swinging out of [the] strike zone, doing things that weren’t our kind of baseball.”
Manhattan actually led 3-1 — with the only Panthers run coming on Zach Sweety’s first career home run — until the bottom of the fourth. With one out, Manhattan’s John Soldinger walked Josh Anderson and Aramis Garcia. Shantz’s first hit of the season, a single to left, brought in Anderson. Edwin Rios cracked a grass-hugging double through the middle of the infield and almost to the wall for a 4-3 FIU lead. Oscar Aguirre’s single and Tyler Hibbert’s sacrifice fly pushed Rios home.
Two innings later, Manhattan pitcher Michael Martin came in with runners on first and second and FIU ahead 5-4. Martin left three batters later after the Panthers’ lead grew to 8-4.
Martin fielded a Rios bunt and fired the ball over third base, allowing one run to score and leaving second and third occupied. Freshman Mandy Alvarez singled to bring in one run: 7-4. Hibbert slapped a chopper to second, and Alvarez occupied the second baseman long enough to prevent the double play. Meanwhile, another run scored.
Martin left the game after his pickoff throw wound up near the Jaspers’ bullpen, and Hibbert went to third.