Things get old to young people quickly. Take FIU baseball’s habit of losing close games by not getting it done with runners in scoring position, as in Sunday afternoon’s 4-2 loss to Texas-San Antonio at FIU Baseball Stadium.
FIU’s half of the first inning ended with sophomore catcher Escarra grounding out to second with the bases loaded. The game ended with FIU senior third baseman Josh Anderson striking out and Escarra flying out to center field with the bases loaded, silencing an FIU bench howling with cheers through the rally held to one run. Jack Schaaf’s double drove in Austin Rodriguez.
Junior first baseman Edwin Rios, “Every game we’ve lost it’s been right there at the end, a close ball game. We’ve got to turn it on, quicker, sooner. From the first inning. If we play the whole game like we play that ninth inning, it’s a different ball game.
“The dugout’s more into it. Everybody’s behind each other, not laid back. Once you’re behind your teammates, it’s just a different atmosphere.”
Two other innings ended with runners in scoring position. FIU got only one run in seven hits in five and two-thirds off UTSA starter Nolan Trabanino, who came into the game with a 6.35 ERA and 0-4 record. In total, 11 hits, three UTSA walks and three UTSA errors led to only those two runs.
Losing two of three this weekend dropped FIU (14-18, 6-6 in Conference USA) behind UTSA (18-14, 7-5) in the conference standings. The two teams entered Sunday three abreast with Alabama-Birmingham in fourth place. The top eight go to the conference tournament and there’s not enough doormats that anybody beyond the top three can cruise into the tournament.
As a Sunday starter, sophomore starter Chris Mourelle (5-3) gave the Panthers time to get to Trabanino. UTSA’s power hitter Jesse Baker blasted a shot over the left field wall in the fourth to tie the game. In the fifth, Mourelle gave up a single to Geonte Jackson, a double down the third base line to Trent Bowles and a Logan Kinder single that scored both runners.
Otherwise, in his seven and a third, Mourelle gave up four hits. Reliever Danny Dopico saw C.J. Pickering hit another ball over near the soccer field in the ninth inning.