Florida International U

FIU baseball team falls to UAB 8-1 in crucial Conference USA matchup

This weekend’s series against Alabama-Birmingham could help determine whether FIU gets invited to the Conference USA baseball tournament in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in two weeks.

If Friday night’s game was any indication, the Panthers might have a tough time holding on to one of the final spots. FIU dropped the first game of a three-game series 8-1 at FIU Stadium.

The win gives the Blazers (27-21, 12-13) a one-game advantage over FIU (23-26, 11-14) and leaves the Panthers in the seventh spot, one game ahead of Charlotte and Old Dominion for the final spot in the conference standings. Only the top eight teams qualify for tournament play.

“They are all important at this stage, but UAB is a very good club, and we are all trying to get one of the five spots that are still up for grabs,” FIU coach Turtle Thomas said after the game. “We are coming down the stretch, and every game gets to be more and more important.”

FIU takes on national power Rice next week, on the road, to wrap up its conference schedule and regular season.

Andrew Nunez (4-5) started Friday night for FIU and was tagged with his fifth loss of the season. James Naile (8-3) got the win for UAB. Naile worked eight innings, struck out eight and did not walk a batter.

Adam Smith was 2 for 3 with three runs scored and an RBI for the Blazers. Chase Davis also had two hits for UAB with a run scored.

FIU was charged with three errors and also had two wild pitches and a passed ball.