FIU began its four-game series against Seton Hall on Friday night with the same offensive fury that it ended its one-afternoon stand against Missouri on Wednesday. The difference Friday was timing.
All the offense the Panthers needed and produced in their 8-3 rout came in the first five innings, climaxed by a six-run fifth that chased Seton Hall starter Shane McCarthy four batters, one run and no outs into the inning.
“We hit the fastball well,” said FIU senior third baseman Austin Rodriguez, who went 2 for 4. “We’ve been working in practice on the slider. We knew he had a slider. I thought we did a good job of hitting strikes, all around.”
Said FIU coach Turtle Thomas: “He’s got a tremendous slider. When he gets that over consistently, which he probably didn’t do early as much as he would’ve liked to have done, he would’ve been a lot tougher. He’s a good college Friday night guy, to say the least.”
Combined with the four-run seventh inning that got FIU (2-4) close enough to be anguished in Wednesday’s 7-6 loss to Missouri, the Panthers scored 12 runs in eight innings over two days.
“We knew we were right there,” Thomas said of Wednesday. “We had the tying run on in the eighth and couldn’t get him in. In the ninth, we had the leadoff guy on. We got a couple of other hits and couldn’t at least tie it. It upset all of us. We knew we should’ve won that game and didn’t. It made us a little more hungry.”
An RBI single by JC Escarra in the first inning and Rodriguez’s slow roller up the middle with runners at the corners accounted for the Panthers’ 2-0 lead on the Pirates (2-3) going into the fifth. Starter Andres Nunez didn’t allow a run until the seventh inning and struck out six in the eight innings he worked before being relieved by Frank Chacon.
With Escarra and Zach Fils on first and second, Rodriguez’s bunt down the third-base line got under McCarthy’s glove and stalled before third baseman Joe Poduslenko could play it. That loaded the bases for junior Kenny Memierstorf, who singled to right off a failed diving catch by Seton Hall’s Ryan Ramiz. Escarra came home, and McCarthy went to the dugout.
The 3-0 lead became 4-0 as sophomore Eddie Silva hit into a double play. Kolby Follis singled in a run, as did Jack Schaaf after pitcher Sam Burum hit Irving Lopez. A double by Zack Soria, the ninth batter, scored another run. The rest of the game was a formality.
Right-handed pitcher Chris Mourelle will start for FIU on Saturday night against Seton Hall.