FIU put pitching Band-Aids on the nicks from errors Friday night against Tennessee. On Saturday, the seven errors proved too numerous. The bleeding from that, along with a lack of offensive oxygen, killed the Panthers in a 9-2 loss to Tennessee at FIU Baseball Stadium.
At least Tennessee’s runs finally pulled ahead of FIU’s errors in the sixth inning. Before that, the two numbers ran together as if handcuffed like a pair of statistical “Defiant Ones.” Three and a half innings into Saturday’s game, Tennessee led 3-0 with three hits and no errors. FIU had zero hits and four errors.
“It’s very troublesome,” said FIU coach Turtle Thomas of the 12 errors in the first two games. “We played 12 intrasquad games like everybody else did and didn’t see anything like this in any of those games.”
Offensively, FIU started slowly, as they did Friday, then pretty much stayed at that pace until garbage time. The Panthers managed only three hits before senior third baseman Josh Anderson broke the shutout with a drive over the left-center-field wall in the seventh inning. By then, FIU trailed 9-0.
“If you were playing football, you’d see the offense, defense and special teams all were not very good [Saturday night],” Thomas said. “We didn’t compete very well whatsoever.”
The series concludes Sunday with a 1 p.m. brunch-time game that will feature a pair of sophomore right-handers, FIU’s Chris Mourelle and Tennessee’s Kyle Serrano. Tennessee’s Drake Owenby got the win Saturday, going six innings while giving up only three hits and zero runs. Garrett Cave, a freshman out of Bushnell South Sumter High, took the loss after a rough start.
Cave might have gotten out of the first inning unscathed, but second baseman Austin Rodriguez’s double play-completing throw to first skittered away. That left Derek Lance on first to score on Christin Stewart’s double.
That 1-0 lead resisted growth until the third. Zach Soria put Derek Lance on base when he dropped the third strike and his throw to first pulled Mitchell Robinson off the base. Walks to Stewart and Vincent Jackson sandwiched a Nick Senzel strikeout. A wild pitch scored Jeff Moberg from third.
And 2-0 became 3-0 when Tennessee continued to crisply execute small ball. Moberg doubled, got bunted over to third by Benito Santiago (yes, the son of …) and broke so well on A.J. Simcox’s squeeze bunt that he scored before the bunt was fielded.
Meanwhile, the Panthers came up and went down with a quiet orderliness rarely associated with Miami.