The first inning was a parade to the plate for the host Panthers (17-12) as they defeated the Rattlers (2-29).
FIU batted around — actually, batted around plus one. Leadoff hitter Julius Gaines got two at-bats in the inning as the Panthers took a 5-0 lead they never relinquished.
The key hit of that first inning was a T.J. Shantz two-run home run, which was his second homer in less than 24 hours. Wednesday’s blast had lots of clearage over the left-field wall, scattering some FIU soccer players practicing in the area behind the stadium.
“No, I wasn’t aiming for them,” Shantz said, laughing. “I was just trying to put a good swing on the ball.”
In the eighth, Shantz, who delivered a three-run homer Tuesday against the Rattlers, almost added another home run, the ball having plenty of distance but going just a few feet wide of the foul pole.
Shantz apparently has broken through a power slump. He was struggling for extra-base hits before the Florida A&M series, but some coaching and extra practice sessions with technique adjustments have seemingly remedied any problems.
“I’ve just been trying to keep my weight back, then transfer it and hit through the ball,” Shantz said. “I was on my front feet too much.”
FIU coach Turtle Thomas thought the two-game series with the Rattlers was helpful.
“It allowed us to play a few guys and pitch a few guys,” he said, pointing out that every starter got a hit Wednesday.
“Dominant pitching is the most important thing in college baseball,” Thomas said, “and hitting throughout the lineup is the second-most important thing.”