Turtle’s boys shell shocked

Louis Agudelo/ Staff Writer

FIU baseball was defeated handily this weekend when they traveled to the University of Mississippi to face the Rebels. They were outscored 32 runs to 11 in three games, and lost all three. The Panthers were swept while featuring a twist on last year’s rotation.

Opening night featured Andres Nunez (0-1) on the bump for the Panthers in front of a crowd of more than 10,000, a big move up from starting most Saturdays last spring. Whether is was rust, his nerves getting the best of him or Ole Miss’ offense just being impossible for the sophomore to suppress, he only lasted a total of four innings, and allowed five earned runs.

Most of the damage was done in the second inning, around two errors committed by FIU’s infield. The Rebel’s only gave up two runs all game, but scored nine of their own, on 10 hits. One of those hits was a home run.

Chris Mourelle (0-1) was the rotation’s anchor a year ago, and for his consistency, was rewarded with Sunday’s off this spring. Mourelle had a slightly better go of things on Saturday afternoon. With a good bit of support from the offense posting eight hits, and doubles from Zach Files, Kenny Meimerstorf, and Nick Day, respectively, Friday’s run total was doubled.

The Panthers held the Rebels to their lowest run and hits totals in the series, and recorded eight hits of their own, a day after stringing together three hits in nine innings. This was the most well-rounded game the team played all weekend, but it still wouldn’t be enough to top Ole Miss. The Panthers left seven runners on base, and dropped Saturday’s contest 7 to 4.

If there was anything left to be salvaged from FIU’s first series of the season, it would have been a quality start from Garrett Cave, the former opening-series Saturday Pitcher, on Sunday before coming back to Miami. He was taken out in the first inning, an inning that wouldn’t end until after Ole Miss had answered FIU’s first lead of the weekend of 2-0, with nine runs of their own.

Any doubt left as to why this Rebels team was ranked 24th in the nation before this weekend was put to rest, at least for now, as the team didn’t even steal a base all afternoon, and still scoring 16 runs. They even committed their first and second errors of  2016, but with that explosive first inning, there wasn’t much the Panthers could do to recover.

With so much run-support, Ole Miss’ pitching staff could kick back on cloudy afternoon, and record 10 strikeouts, while not even batting-an-eyelash at FIU’s 10 hits, the most they had gotten all weekend. The Panthers completed the sweep, of themselves, as Eddie Silva struck out swinging for the last out, and lost 16-5.

The Panthers were overwhelmed and outplayed by a team we’ll likely be hearing a lot more from in the next couple months, in Ole Miss. Not many conclusions can be drawn about this team yet, from these first three performances because of the disparity between these two teams, the better of the two hailing from the far and widely respected Southeastern Conference.

Going forward, this FIU squad faces a three-week homestand, without any truly important games during that stretch, and actually Conference USA-play not beginning for this club until March 22.

This will give them plenty of flexibility and time to try different lineups and rotations out, and tweak whatever else they must in order to be equipped to begin their title-defense, as well as provide them with some of their toughest opponents of the season, to test this team’s newcomers, and the vigor of the veterans of the program.

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