A steady downpour held up the first pitch of FIU’s game with UConn on Saturday night by 2 hours, 36 minutes. Unfortunately for the Panthers, once the game started their bats took just as long to get going.
A late comeback effort came up short as the Panthers (7-7) fell to the Huskies (6-5) at FIU Baseball Stadium, 5-3.
Trailing 5-1 in heading into the bottom of the sixth, a sacrifice fly by right fielder Edwin Rios and an RBI single by catcher Zach Soria cut the deficit in half.
After stranding two runners on base in the eighth, the ninth inning got off to a positive start for the Panthers with back-to-back walks and a sacrifice bunt to put the potential tying run on second base with one out.
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But Huskies reliever Patrick Ruotolo struck out pinch hitter Brandon Cody and got leadoff hitter Jack Schaff to ground out to second base to end the game and earn the save just before the clock struck midnight.
UConn starting pitcher Anthony Kay earned the win, holding the Panthers in check for most of his seven innings of work – striking out seven batters and giving up just two earned runs. At one point, Kay retired nine straight Panthers hitters between the first and fourth innings.
A sluggish start doomed FIU starting pitcher Andres Nunez (2-1), giving up three earned runs on seven hits in four innings pitched, walking four and striking out four in the loss.
Shortstop Julius Gaines and third baseman Josh Anderson each had two hits for the Panthers in the loss, with Gaines scoring twice and Anderson driving in one run and scoring once himself.
Due to the late finish, the first pitch for Sunday’s finale between FIU and UConn is now scheduled for 2 p.m.