Panthers pick up series win over rival FAU

Louis Agudelo/ Staff Writer

The tides might finally be turning in Miami for the baseball team as they managed to win two out of three games over the weekend against 17th ranked Florida Atlantic University.

As one can only expect from a team fighting for the top spot in Conference USA, in game one of the series on Friday, April 22, the Owls from FAU scored six runs before the Panthers could even score one.

Cody Crouse (2-1) had a rough start in his new role as the Friday night starter. The 6-foot-6  right hander only pitched three and two-thirds innings, but gave up eight hits and six runs, five of those runs earned.

To stop the bleeding, ironically enough, Turtle Thomas brought in former Friday night starter Andres Nunez (3-2).

Nunez would pitch four and one-third innings, keeping the Owls from scoring any more runs, and striking out four. This plug in the hull would be exactly what FIU would need, so they could focus on the offensive side of things.

With Nunez on the mound, the Panthers would battle back, totalling 12 hits on the night, three of those from right-fielder Kenny Meimerstorf, who is still the team’s RBI’s leader.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, the rally would be capped off with a sacrifice fly off the bat of Zach Files, scoring Jack Schaaf as the go-ahead run. Williams Durruthy would come in to close the ninth inning and he’d do so successfully, notching his fourth save of the season and helping Nunez win his 3rd game of the year.

The contest on Saturday, April 23, began a bit differently than how Friday’s did. This time, it was Chris Mourelle (5-4) who had the mound against FAU and while he did give up a run early in the first inning, the FIU offense had his back in the second and third innings.

A solo home run Nick Day and his team-leading seventh jack of the season got things started for the Panther offense and all tied up at one run a piece in the second inning.

In the third, RBI’s from Eddie Silva and Zack Soria gave the home team a two run lead. It was in the top of the fourth that the lead was erased by a two run home run by FAU designated hitter Sean Labsan.

Mourelle would stay in the game for the Panthers, pitching eight total innings while only allowing two earned runs all night.

In the same inning that they had scored the winning run just a night before, FIU managed to take the lead again with an RBI single from Irving Lopez.

With the lead and an opportunity to take game two of the three game set against rival FAU, Coach Thomas pulled Mourelle and put in Durruthy to shut the door. In dominating fashion, Durruthy struck out three of the four batters he faced and the Panthers took the first two games of the series.

FIU had a chance to do what no one could have imagined on Sunday afternoon; a chance to sweep not only their biggest rivals, but the Number 17 ranked baseball team in the entire nation.

They faced left handed junior Alex Demchak (3-2). Demchak hadn’t been in this position all season, as Garrett Cave has been the Sunday Started most weekends for the Panthers. To add to the nerves, Demchak would be facing the university from his home town, being a native of Boca Raton, and a graduate of Spanish River High School in Boca Raton.

The junior only pitched two innings on Sunday, April 24, giving up one walk, three earned runs, and eight hits before being pulled in favor of freshman Nate Pearson.

Pearson and Demchak were only the first two of the long line of seven pitchers that FAU would face on this Sunday afternoon matchup. As a staff FIU would strikeout 10 but give up 12 hits and eventually nine runs to the Owls.

The defense for the Panther squad would also be a hinderance to their success, committing four errors. The University offense only managed to bring across one run and that was with a Meimerstorf RBI single in the 7th inning, but that run would soon be made to feel very unimportant when in the next inning Owl first baseman Esteban Puerta hit a solo homerun to left field.

The final score would be 9-1 and the Owls would avoid being swept by the Panthers.

While they couldn’t get the sweep, there could be a great deal of positive momentum drawn from taking two games from this FAU team and it might be exactly what the Panthers need going forward to finish off the season.

Thomas’ tune seems to have turned to something less typical as he has finally switched his pitching rotation around a bit. This team is far from done, as this weekend proved.

They had another opportunity to keep the ball rolling at the University of South Florida on Tuesday, April 26, at Louisville on Wednesday, April 27, and then a three game set against another CUSA team at Western Kentucky University on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, April 29 and 30, and May 1.

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