Panthers making a habit of going streaking

Francisco Rivero/Staff Writer

Anybody who is a fan of the film “Old School” will tell you Will Ferrell’s “We’re going streaking!” line is the staple of that film. The FIU baseball team seems to have adopted Ferrell’s philosophy and have gone streaking to start the season.

FIU started the season by winning seven of their first eight games, then proceeded to lose seven straight, and now ride a three-game winning streak through March 15. Baseball has always been a sport of streaks and this is something that the FIU team knows all too well.

“We just got to believe in each other and have each other’s backs and that’s going to help us keep winning ball games” said freshman pitcher Dillon Maya.

“We just got to play with confidence. We knew we were going to have some struggles but it’s all about fighting and staying together and trying to stay positive,” said centerfielder Roche Woodard. “Even during the losing streak, we would always tell each other we would get over it and then we finally got over the hump and now we’re starting to get things rolling.”

Panthers walking it off

The team’s three-game winning streak entering conference play did not come without its share of drama. During a two-game home stand where FIU hosted the University of South Florida, both games went into extra innings with both games coming to a thrilling conclusion.

During game one, the Panthers’ sophomore catcher Aramis Garcia stepped up to the plate with a runner on and no outs during the bottom of the 11th inning. Garcia was able to end the game with a walk-off double securing the win for FIU in a 5-4 victory over the Bulls.

“You know I was thinking during the game as a coach you always what to know who are the guys that want to be in that situation,” Head Coach Henry Thomas said. “The guys who are relaxed enough to have good bat speed or relaxed enough to make good pitches, you don’t always have those situations in every game you play. So when the situation does come up you want to see who can deliver in those spots.”

The next day was more of the same for the Panthers, as USF was able to tie the game in the top of the eighth. During the bottom of the 10th, USF elected to walk sophomore first baseman Oscar Aguirre in order to pitch to Woodard.

“I actually did feel disrespected and I knew I had to come through on that at bat,” said Woodard. “So I just took that as a challenge instead of disrespect.”

The gamble did not pay off for the Bulls as Woodard got the game-winning hit for FIU. Securing another walk-off win for the Panthers and extending the winning streak to three games.

“My main goal for that at bat was just to find a pitch I could hit or I can drive”, said Woodard. “Look for a pitch in the strike zone, don’t swing at a pitch outside, just find a pitch you can hit and get a nice solid drive out of it”.

Changing up the Defense

Over the last couple of games Thomas has changed up his defensive alignment, which has resulted in fewer errors so far. He moved second baseman T.J. Shantz to left field and moved shortstop Julius Gaines over to second. Filling in Gaines spot is first baseman Edwin Rios and utility man Aguirre filled in the hole at first base.

This new line up was put into effect after a series of games against Ole Miss resulted in the Panther having multiple errors in each of the three games. Despite the success of the new defensive lineup, Thomas was not solid on it becoming a permanent staple just yet.

“We got to see about the changes,” Thomas said. “We still got some tweaking we have to do.”

About the Author

Francisco Rivero
: FIU Student Media Sports Director, Co-Host of Panther Sports Talk Live, Sports and Opinion writer, Communications major.