FIU snaps longest losing streak of season against WKU

The Panthers won two of three games from the Hilltoppers in Bowling Green between March 23-25. (Alfonso Yec/The Beacon)

By Eduardo Almaguer / Staff Writer

The Panthers won two of three games from the Hilltoppers in Bowling Green between March 23-25. (Alfonso Yec/The Beacon)

On March 21, the Panthers took a tie game into the ninth inning and could not come away with a win. Two days later, they found themselves in the same exact position. This time, they made sure to capture the win.

Despite committing a season-high six errors, FIU (9-11, 1-3 SBC) snapped its longest losing streak of the season on March 23 after defeating conference foe Western Kentucky University (9-13, 1-3 SBC) 6-5.

The win was FIU’s first in five games and only the second on the road this season. It was at the expense of WKU’s starting pitcher Justin Hageman, reigning Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year.

Panthers Nathan Burns, Adam Kirsch and Roche Woodard all recorded three hits in the match with Mike Martinez and T..J. Shantz chipping in two hits each.

Redshirt junior left-hander Mason McVay pitched five innings, allowing one earned run, three walks and six walks.

The first eight runs of the game were scored in the first two innings, as both teams got off to a fast start.

After leading the game off with a single, Burns came around to score on senior Pablo Bermudez’ first sacrifice fly of the game. Shantz, who hit a single after Burns, scored on Martinez’ hard-hit double off the wall one batter later.

Sloppy defense got the better of the Panthers in the bottom of the first inning, as errors by Shantz in left field, Kirsch at first base and freshman Julius Gaines at shortstop allowed the Hill Toppers to tie the score 2-2.

Gaines was hit by a pitch in the second inning and moved to second base on Woodard’s single. With two men on base, Burns drove in Gaines on an RBI single.

After Hageman hit his second batter of the inning, Shantz, Bermudez followed with his second sacrifice fly to make it 4-2.

Once again, however, the Panthers could not hold steady in the field after a failed pick off attempt, and another error by Gaines allowed the Hill Toppers to score two more runs and tie it 4-4.

FIU had a chance to break the game open in the fourth inning when they had the bases loaded and freshman Aramis Garcia at the plate. Garcia drove one out to the warning track, however, and ended the inning with no runs. A lengthy rain delay halted the game in the top of the sixth inning, where Hageman was substituted for Tate Glasscock.

In the eighth inning, Shantz led off with a single and eventually stole his team-leading sixth base and ended up at third base by tagging up. Martinez then drove him in to take a 5-4 lead.

The theme of the match continued, however, with WKU tying the game back up after a bases loaded walk in the bottom of the eighth.

With a tie game in the top of the ninth inning, Burns drove in Kirsch with his second RBI of the game with a two-out single as his teammates roared from the dugout.

Closer Michael Gomez earned his first win as a Panther, securing the 6-5 victory.

The Panthers took two out of three games over the Toppers, winning 5-3 in 11 innings on March 24 and losing 9-4 on March 25.

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