By: Andres Leon / Staff Writer
The Golden Panthers came out finding their rhythm in the second game of a three-game series against Seton Hall on Mar. 5 and won a close 4-3 game against the Pirates and giving Turtle Thomas his 100th victory as the head coach of FIU.
With no hits in the first inning and Seton Hall ace Joe DiRocco moved up from Sunday to start, things wouldn’t be easy for FIU’s high-powered offense.
“DiRocco is one the best pitchers out there in college ball,” Thomas said. “We figured him out eventually and our bullpen has been playing well.”
But Rudy Flores turned things around for the Golden Panthers with his second homerun of the season, driving a fly ball deep to left field gave FIU an early one run lead in the second inning.
“Honestly I wasn’t trying to hit homerun, I was just trying to get on base but it felt amazing to get that run.” Flores said.
Iosmel Leon was hit by pitch later on in the inning to load the bases for leadoff hitter Pablo Bermudez to try and make something happen. Bermudez was able to, hitting a bouncing ground ball into center field bringing in two runs for FIU.
The Pirates would quiet the Golden Panther offense for the next several innings, allowing Seton Hall to rally back into the game.
With runners on base, Connor Delepine and Chris Selden would bring in two runs to make it a one-run game in the fourth.
After another dry inning, the Huskies would find their way back on to the scoreboard in the top of the sixth to tie the game.
The game turned into another pitching duel on Saturday night between both bullpens battling into the later innings.
D.J. Swatscheno came in for FIU in the eighth and the lefty would come on to get three straight strikeouts.
Now that another close game was at hand, Seton Hall closer Ryan Harvey would come on for the Pirates, but he would commit a balk with the bases loaded to bring in Jabari Henry would come home to give the Golden Panthers the late one run lead.
“DiRocco is one the best pitchers out there in college ball,” coach Turtle Thomas continued. “We figured him out eventually and our bullpen has been playing we have a lot of right handed and left handed throwers.”
Bryam Garcia would get the honors to close the game one more time. Garcia would come out pitching heat getting the one strike out needed to close the game for FIU (10-2).
FIU 4, Seton Hall 2
FIU (9-2) would open up their series with the Seton Pirates a day earlier with a 4-2 win on Mar. 5.
Getting things started early for the Golden Panthers was Jeremy Patton, who brought in two runs for the Golden Panthers off a deep ball into leftfield. Patton exposed the left field gap to bring in Yoandy Barroso and leadoff hitter Pablo Bermudez and give FIU the early two-run lead in the second inning.
Phil Haig started the night for the Golden Panthers. Haig would have some issues early on, giving up a run in the top of the third inning.
Haig walked the Pirate’s catcher Frank Esposito bringing Zach Granite home for the solo run.
Haig continued to have a few hick ups in the fourth inning, giving up a solo home run to Connor Delepine to tie the game for the Pirates.
However, Haig would overcome adversity and bounce back, pitching 6 1-3 innings on the nights getting seven strikeouts, holding the Pirates offense to only five hits and keeping them from taking the lead.
Jose Velazquez would make his second appearance for FIU allowing only one hit and getting two strikeouts in an inning and a half of work and would end up picking up the win for FIU.
“I’m just glad I put my little grain of sand on this game,” Velazquez said.
“When they call on me I’ll be ready.”
Thomas added: “Phil got us into the seventh, and Velazquez got us out of jam. We had a little funk this game but the pitchers did their job and gave us what we needed.”
Four consecutive singles with two outs in the eighth, including RBI singles from Patton and Garrett Wittels, gave the Golden Panthers a 4-2 lead late in the game.
“Hopefully we get the bat backs… I got a good pitch and just hit it hard,” Patton said after breaking the tie.
Closing the game for FIU was Bryam Garcia. Garcia throwing heat would get the job done quickly, getting three strikeouts in the ninth inning closing the game at 4-2 for the FIU.