FIU splits spring break series versus Jacksonville

Louis Agudelo/ Staff Writer

After quick road trip up the east, Alex Demchack and the Panthers took on the Jacksonville University Dolphins. The two teams exchanged runs in the first two innings and pleasantries between the home-team’s hecklers.

Some of the FIU players, namely Kolby Folis, earned what is known as a “Golden Sombrero”, that’s when a batter goes 0-4, with four strikeouts in one game. The heckling can’t have been helpful  to him with that going on.

Folis said after the game, “Anyone who tells you they can’t hear anything on the field is lying. They’re full of it.”

The cheering from the Dolphins side got louder than in the bottom of the fourth when they put one more on the board with a wild pitch, making the score 2-1 in JU’s favor. The way the game was going, it seemed as if 2-1 was going to be the final score, as well.

The 8th inning featured a hit from Nick Day that scored a run and an error at third base for the Dolphins that let another run score. These two would prove to be the difference and FIU would go on to take the first game of the quick mid-week series and their first come-from-behind victory of the week.

Wednesday, March 16,  got off to a quick start with rocket-shot off the bat of Austin Hays and over the left field wall in the blink of an eye, giving the Dolphins 1-0 advantage over the Panthers.

Another run would come across before the end of the first inning and it would be 2-0 going into Kolby Folis’ first attempt at coming back from his golden sombrero. He managed to turn an inning ending ground out to the shortstop into an infield single that would have loaded the bases, if not for a poor piece of base running that got FIU’s lead runner out to end that half of the inning.

Not much else happened until the bottom of the third when a lot of speed and a little more luck scored two more for the Dolphins.

JU had a 4-1 lead, up until the top of the next inning, when with two outs, when the Panthers chose to get a large portion of their hitting done this season, Jack Schaaf sent a three run opposite-field homerun over the right field wall, after fouling a ball off his knee and striking out the previous at-bat.

Willy Fabra came into relieve Michael Agis to start the bottom of the 4th. During the bottom half of that inning, Zach Files took a pitch over 405 feet away to straight away center and over the fence, to give FIU its first lead of the night.

Later, in the 7th inning, a premium heckler moved from his position behind center field to one right next to the FIU dugout. It didn’t seem to be much of a nuisance to the visiting FIU team as they were having fun hearing their teammates be put through the ringer.

A sac bunt moved runners to second and third and a Franko Guardascione 3-run homerun put JU ahead of FIU by two. Parker Perez then hit the top of the scoreboard with a two-run homerun of his own in the bottom of the eighth, delivering what seemed to be the dagger, until Austin Hays added insult to injury with another solo home run and the score was 10-5.

FIU tried to pick up their second comeback win of the season, but 12 hits just wouldn’t be enough this game and the summary of it came in the form of a bomb hit off the bat of Jack Schaaf in the bottom of the ninth inning to straightaway center, which, had it carried just one or two more feet, would have been enough to clear the fence, but didn’t, and was caught at the fence, followed by a strikeout to end the game.

A couple more scoops of Wheaties might be what Schaaf and the rest of this team need to get over the hump. They begin Conference USA play next against University of North Carolina at Charlotte, to finish up their road trip and while Coach Thomas doesn’t seem too concerned, the Panthers might have a lot of losing headed their way if they can’t clutch up in key moments.

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