FIU bats cooled off by Miami Marlins on a historic night

(Jonathan Segal/The Beacon)

(Jonathan Segal/The Beacon)

By Eduardo Almaguer/Staff Writer

eduardo.almaguer@fiusm.com

Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton has a way of attracting attention.

An hour before the game, FIU players stared as he stepped into the batting cage and crushed home run after home run, peppering Marlins Park with souvenirs.

As each ball was hit farther and farther, their jaws dropped lower and lower. This was their competition on March 7.

And they were supposed to treat it “like a regular ball game” according to head coach Turtle Thomas.

“At about four o’ clock it hit me that I’m actually facing the Marlins,” said left-hander Logan Dodds, the Panthers starting pitcher.

On a night where more than 18,000 fans came out to watch the exhibition match between FIU and the Marlins, the score was the last thing on anyone’s mind.

Before the game, Marlins closer Heath Bell invited the entire FIU team to stretch before the game, breaking the ice between both squads.

“He was trying to take the edge off,” Dodds said. “ He told us that we’re on the same field together and to have fun.”

About an hour before the game Major League Baseball Players Association called the Marlins and told them to relay the message that FIU cannot use metal bats, something the University of Miami did the Tuesday night.

“It was no big deal,” said Thomas. “We practice in the off-season using wooden bats and some of our players had some wooden bats with them already.”

Dodds, chosen by Thomas to start because of his position in the rotation, started the first inning allowing two hits to shortstop Jose Reyes and centerfielder Emilio Bonifacio to put Marlins on the corners.

The next batter on deck was the player they saw launching home runs out of the park, Stanton. He managed to induce a double play from the slugger and limit the damage to one run.

“He’s hard not to notice when he gets in the box,” said Dodds. “He is massive.”

Right-hander Ricky Nolasco held the team hitless for his two innings, and it was not until Heath Bell pitched that FIU broke through with its first hit of the night.

Freshman Roche Woodard, who was stepping in for the injured Jabari Henry, notched the first hit with a double to deep right as the crowd roared as he stepped sprinted toward second base.

In the bottom of the third inning, senior Christian Malbrough stepped on the mound to pitch and allowed a single to third baseman Jeff Dominguez. After getting Reyes to pop out to left field, Bonifacio hit a home run to right field to make it 3-0.

“Home runs are not my thing,” said Bonifacio before the game.

Marlbrough remained in the game for the fourth inning and walked Greg Dobbs and Omar Infante to begin the fourth inning. After recording an out, catcher Brett Hayes knocked in two more runs to make it 5-0.

The Panthers were finally able to break through with another base runner in the top of the sixth inning, as Julius Gaines reached base via an error and later stole second base.

Junior T.J Shantz drove in Gaines with an infield single off Dan Jennings with the crowd coming back to life for FIU as they trailed 5-1.

The Panthers managed to record five more hits as the Marlins regulars were substituted for players from their minor league system, as FIU eventually dropped the contest 5-1.

“They were aggressive and that’s what I asked them to do,” said Thomas after the game. “I was very proud of my team today.”

Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen exchanged a few words with the players immediately following the game.

“I told them I hope to see them someday playing for me.”

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