Panthers swept by Rice in opening weekend

Logan Dodds was suspended for the first series of the season due to a violation of team rules.

Eduardo Almaguer / Staff Writer

eduardo.almaguer@fiusm.com

Logan Dodds was suspended for the first series of the season due to a violation of team rules. (Beacon File Photo)

FIU (0-3) suffered a sweep at the hands of the Owls (3-0) in their season opening series, having the lead only once in all three games.

 

RICE 6, FIU 2

 

An almost three-hour rain delay washed away FIU’s offense in its season opener as the team fell 6-2 against the number sixth ranked team in the country.

The Panthers and the Rice University Owls both had seven hits in the game, but the Owls made theirs count.

Despite a solid performance on the mound by R.J. Fondon, the senior left-hander was tagged with the loss after surrendering three earned runs and walking five batters in five innings. He also struck out seven Owls.

The Panthers’ seven hits were all singles, with junior Rudy Flores having the only multi-hit game for the team after going two-for-four at the plate.

The Owls were held scoreless just for one inning as Christian Singer hit a solo homerun in the bottom of the second inning off Fondon. Rice was back at it in the very next inning, pushing across two more runs to shove FIU into a three-run hole.

A bases-loaded, no-out situation in the top of the fourth inning was the Panther’s best chance to either tie the game or take the lead.

After junior Adam Kirsch struck out, Rice’s third baseman committed a fielding error that allowed Shantz to score the first of FIU’s two runs on the night. Still with the bases loaded and one out, David Vazquez hit a groundball for a double play, ending the inning and shifting the momentum back to Rice.

The Owls drowned the Panther’s hope of battling back after a three-run homerun by Shane Hoelscher off redshirt sophomore Eddy Pidermann put FIU at a five-run deficit.

The Panthers could not respond to the Owls, scratching through only one run on Kirsch’s RBI single in the top of the eighth inning.

Rice snapped its two-year, opening day losing streak and subsequently extended FIU’s to a second consecutive year.

 

RICE 5, FIU 4 (F/12)

 

In baseball, the saying, “you have to have a short-term memory,” is a frequently cited one, usually following a loss. For FIU, it is going to be tough to forget this one.

FIU dropped a 12-inning affair against Rice in which they blew their lead in the ninth and eventually gave up a walk-off homerun to lose 5-4.

Making only his second career start, left-hander Mason McVay allowed only three hits in 5.2 innings, but walked five Owls while striking out one.

Junior Jabari Henry enjoyed a three-for-six night with the first FIU homerun of the season and a pair of runs and RBIs.

Junior Nathan Burns had three hits, including a triple, and freshman Julius Gaines recorded his first two hits of his collegiate career, two doubles.

The first seven innings were a pitching duel. A third-inning sacrifice fly by Rice gave them a 1-0 lead, but it remained scoreless until FIU tied the match when Henry scored on a wild pitch.

Senior right-hander Christian Marlborough surrendered two runs in the bottom of the frame, and the Panthers headed into the top of the ninth in a 3-1 hole.

The Panthers, however, refused to head back into the clubhouse with an “L” hanging over their heads.

After junior Rudy Flores hit an RBI single to score senior Pablo Bermudez, Henry smashed a two-out, two-strike homerun to take a 4-3 lead.

Junior Michael Gomez, the team’s closer, could not get three outs and give FIU its first career win against Rice. After walking the first batter, Jeremy Rathjen hit an infield single to tie the game and keep the Owls’ hopes alive.

In the bottom of the 12th inning, redshirt sophomore Albert Cardenas allowed Rathjen to become the hero again, surrendering the game-winning homerun to the Rice outfielder and sending the Owls home as winners.

When dealing with Rice, the Panthers simply bit off more than they could chew.

 

RICE 8, FIU 1

 

Sunday afternoon’s game at Reckling Park was the complete opposite of Saturday’s. Where as only one run was scored in the first seven innings on Saturday, five were scored in the first inning on Sunday. Unfortunately for FIU, all five were Rice’s, as FIU could not overcome the blow and dropped the match 8-1.

Freshman right-hander Jose Lazaro had a rude introduction to Division I baseball, as the Rice hitters knocked him around hard in the first inning. Recording only two outs in his start, Lazaro gave up two hits, five walks and hit two batters, leading to the five earned runs.

Sophomore Mike Ellis was called in relief and surrendered only one run in 5 1/3 and striking out three. The damage, however, had been done.

No Panther had more than one hit, and junior Rudy Flores had the team’s lone RBI.

The Owls exploded in the first inning after a bases-clearing double by Craig Manuel, RBI single and a bases loaded walk to give them a 5-0 lead.

After freshman Julius Gaines led off the third inning with a single, Flores drove him home with a two-out single. The Rice pitching staff silenced the Panther bats afterwards, allowing only three hits. The Owls tacked on three more runs as the game progressed, eventually earning the sweep.

It is the first time since 2008 that the Panthers begin the season 0-3.

FIU returns to the mound on Friday to take on No. 20 Florida State University (3-0) at 4 p.m.

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