Eduardo Almaguer / Staff Writers
Among the biggest issues in 2011 for the Panthers was the propensity to commit errors. They led the Sun Belt Conference last season with 98, and an error in Sunday’s game may have cost them the chance to win their series against Florida State University.
Florida International University (1-5) dropped the third and final match of the series against No. 8 FSU (6-1) on a day where the Panthers did not score their first run until the eighth inning. They eventually lost 2-1. Sophomore right-hander Michael Ellis was one of the few bright spots of the day, pitching six innings, allowing only three hits and striking out six batters in his first start of the year.
Senior Pablo Bermudez got on base four times in five chances and junior Adam Kirsch had the team’s lone RBI.
Panther killer James Ramsey, the player responsible for the Seminoles’ three runs on Saturday, struck again on Sunday with a solo homerun in the fourth inning to put his team on the board.
The Panthers committed an error they could not afford in the seventh inning when reliever John Costa overthrew fielded a bunt and sailed it over first baseman Mike Martinez’s head. The error made it 2-0.
Kirsch later drove in T.J. Shantz in the very next inning and the Panthers were on the verge of tying it until an odd play unraveled before them. Junior Jabari Henry hit a line drive to the third baseman that rebounded off him and right into the hands of the second baseman for a force out. A hit would have tied the game.
Robert Benincasa then closed the game for FSU.
For the second straight series, FIU out hit their opponents. They tallied 26 hits over the weekend, seven more than the Seminoles.
Bermudez, who got off to a slow start in the first series, was back in his old form hitting for a .384 average in the series with three runs and three walks.
Martinez showed why his bat was sorely needed in the Rice series, hitting for a whopping .500 average with three walks to boost his on-base percentage even higher.
The Panthers’ starting pitching was solid overall, managing a 3.57 ERA and striking out 17 Seminoles in only 15 1/3 innings. The walks, however, just continued to pile up, with 14 from the starters alone. The relievers chipped in 12 more, bringing the series total to 27.
FIU has now walked 53 batters in six games, or about nine per game. Head coach Turtle Thomas wants three per game.
FIU returns to Miami for its home opener on March 2 against Brown University at 7 p.m. The Panthers will be seeking to win their first home opener in two years.