Three up for Rice, three down for FIU. That’s the weekend series count after an 11-7 FIU loss at FIU Baseball Stadium.
The baseball team from a diverse school demonstrated diversity this weekend, losing close Friday night in 13 innings; by blow out Saturday; and Sunday in a wild duel of runs and errors. FIU is 16-4, 3-3 in Conference USA. Conference favorite Rice, ranked No. 19 in the USA Today Coaches poll, is 15-6, 5-1.
FIU starter Robby Kalaf lasted four batters before leaving the game with two outs and a runner on first. FIU coach Turtle Thomas said Kalaf had a muscle knot under his arm that he might’ve loosed up eventually, but FIU decided to be cautious.
“It was one of those weekends. This game, it was a lot like the Friday night game in that it was a hard fought game between the two teams,” FIU junior third baseman Josh Anderson said. “This game our offense showed up to play. Our defense wasn’t really there and our pitching wasn’t really there. Rice showed up again. We had them on their heels for a little bit. We knew since they had two games on us, they might be a little sloppy. But, they weren’t.”
Thomas admitted, “We gave them a lot today” but felt as opposed to Saturday, when he felt FIU “didn’t compete,” Sunday was a case of “trying too hard.”
From 6-6 into the bottom of the sixth, Rice gave FIU one run. FIU responded by giving Rice five.
Rice catcher John Clay Reeves dropped a third strike to FIU sophomore Edwin Rios, then flung the usually perfunctory throw to first base halfway to Parkview Hall. That gave Aramis Garcia, who extended his hitting streak to 14 games in the first inning, time to truck home from second.
Given a 7-6 lead, FIU got one out into the seventh before overgifting the re-gifting. A Ford Stainback double off the wall ended the day for FIU pitcher Mitchell Davis. Charlie Cormier came in, walked Charlie Warren and Leon Byrd to load the bases and gave that situation to Mike Gomez. Keenan Cook’s single scored one run. A deep line out to left by Skyler Ewing scored another: 8-7.
What at first looked like a foul ball pop-up from Reeves, dropped just inside the foul line in short right field to score one more. Then, FIU junior left fielder Roche Woodard lost Chase McDowell’s routine fly ball in the sun. Woodard didn’t find it until after it landed behind him. What was scored a double gave McDowell five RBI for the day and Rice an 11-7 lead.