Panthers back on track; win series at La Tech

The FIU Baseball team finished their four game road trip in the state of Louisiana with two wins and two losses, pushing their overall record to 26-10 and their Conference-USA record to 10-8.

After falling 12-6 to former Sun Belt Conference opponent University of Louisiana-Monroe in a midweek contest on Wednesday, April 9, the Panthers continued on over to face conference foe Louisiana Tech University for a three-game weekend series. For the first time since their sweep of the Marshall University Thundering Herd back in March, FIU was able to win the series taking two of three from the Bulldogs.

Friday’s first game against La Tech was a no-brainer as junior right-handed pitcher Mike Franco threw complete game number 11 for FIU this season en route to a 7-2 Panther win. Franco retired 18 of the last 19 batters he faced, striking out six earning him his fifth win this season, lowering his era to 1.03.

Junior catcher Aramis Garcia hit his sixth home run of the season in the top of the fifth inning, number 19 of his career at FIU. Junior third baseman Josh Anderson, who has been struggling as of late, also had a nice game with three total RBI’s. The seven runs FIU posted are the most they have scored since bringing in eight against Bethune-Cookman University over two weeks ago.

In the second game of the series against La Tech, it was another shutout for the Panther’s pitching staff as they took down the Bulldogs 3-0. The 11th shutout of the season is a Conference-USA single-season record and was led by freshman right-handed pitcher Cody Crouse. Coming into the weekend, the Panther pitching staff was ranked third in the nation behind a team era of 1.89.

The Panthers scored early on in the top of the first from a Garcia RBI bringing in Tyler Hibbert who walked to start the game. Junior shortstop Julius Gaines, who had two hits on the night, scored in the third on a wild pitch pushing FIU’s score to 2-0.

After senior Zack Sweety’s RBI triple in the ninth giving FIU a 3-0 lead, it was time for senior Mike Gomez to come in and do what he does best, closing the game out for the Panthers. The save for Gomez was number 22 of his career, tying him for the second most saves in FIU history. Gomez is now only two saves away from breaking the all time record at FIU.

The final game of the series saw La Tech end a nine game losing streak that dated back to March 25, topping the Panthers 4-2. It was a tough loss for freshman right-handed pitcher Chris Mourelle, who coming into the game had a 6-0 record and a team low 0.59 ERA.

The Bulldogs managed to score three runs in the fifth inning ending a scoreless streak of 25 innings held by Mourelle. The three run deficit would prove to be too much as the Panthers only managed to score two runs the rest of the game.

FIU will be back at it this weekend when they host conference rival Florida Atlantic University in a three game weekend series. The first game will be Friday, April 18 with the first pitch set for 6 p.m.


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