Panthers roll past Trojans 10-5

Eduardo Almaguer/ Staff Writer
After the game on April 20, you would not have guessed that it was University of Little Rock Arkansas leading the Sun Belt Conference in runs, home runs, RBIs, hits, slugging percentage, on-base percentage and batting average.

The Panthers are now 24-14 on the year and 10-6 in the Sun Belt, third behind FAU and Arkansas State.

FIU (24-14, 10-6 SBC) played the role of offensive juggernaut in the first game of a three-game series against the Trojans (18-19, 5-11), winning 10-5 on a night where rain and lightning delayed the start time one hour and 50 minutes.

Senior Mike Martinez had his best night of the season with a solo home run and five RBIs.  Junior Jabari Henry stayed hot, reaching base all four times while driving in two runs.

Left-hander Mason McVay was not as sharp as his previous outing, lasting only four innings and departing after walking the bases loaded. It was Eddy Pidermann (7-0) who shined, relieving McVay and striking out seven batters in three innings.

McVay had a sloppy first inning, issuing his team-leading 29th and 30th walks as well as giving up a single to Bignall. With the bases loaded, McVay hit a batter to let the Trojans take a 1-0 lead.

The Panthers answered back immediately after senior Pablo Bermudez walked to lead off the bottom of the first inning. He scored after a Henry single moved him to third and a Martinez sacrifice fly tied it up.

The bats fell silent until UALR second baseman Chris Burk hit a solo home run to lead off the fourth inning to make it 2-1.

Once again, though, being scored on galvanized FIU into reciprocating. Nathan Burns led off the bottom of the fourth with his eighth triple of the year—second in the country—and came home to score on a T.J Shantz single.

Henry, who moved to third on Shantz’s hit, scored on a sacrifice fly to make it 3-2.

But the momentum that the Panthers worked so hard to get was washed away after McVay threw 12 straight balls in the fifth inning to load the bases with no outs, leading to his departure for right-hander Eddy Pidermann.

Pidermann, thrust into the toughest situation of the year for him, struck out the 3-4-5 hitters to escape the inning unscathed as the crowd roared with the final strikeout.

“They’re a good team so I just threw strikes and got them out,” Pidermann said.

UALR tied it up again in the sixth inning after a double came around to score on a single.

In the bottom of the same frame, Martinez drove in another run with a double and scored on Shantz’s ground out to make it 5-3 and refuse UALR even a moment to enjoy a lead.

FIU broke the game open on a bases loaded double by the red-hot Henry in the bottom of the seventh inning to make it 7-3, and then a long three-run home run by Martinez made it 10-3.

The Trojans scored two runs in the ninth, but could not rally back all the way as FIU won the game when the clock struck 12:30 a.m.

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