FIU returns home to take on Conference USA rivals

Brett Shweky // Staff Writer

Following last weekend’s victorious road trip to Houston, Texas, the Panthers return to the FIU ballpark for a three-game series against the UAB Blazers.

FIU (14-10. 3-3 Conference USA) enters the series winning 12 of their last 16 games and five of their last six series. UAB (14-11, 3-3 Conference USA) dropped two out of three games against Florida Atlantic last weekend and have lost five of their last eight games.

In last season’s meeting between the two teams, the Panthers traveled to Birmingham, Alabama, to sweep the Blazers. FIU leads 6-4 in the all-time series against UAB.

Head Coach Mervyl Melendez said that going into the series against the Blazers, he wants the team to focus on their consistency and also work on their mental approach to the game.

“We need to be a little bit more consistent,” said Melendez. “Our intensity level and our concentration needs to remain the same throughout games, we have to just become a little more consistent in those aspects.”

UAB and FIU are both within the top-5 in the conference when it comes to steals. The Blazers currently lead Conference USA with 30 stolen bases, as outfielder Brewer Hicklen leads the conference with 10 steals. The Panthers are ranked fourth in steals, having stolen 23 bases so far this season.

Coming into the series, UAB’s pitching leads the conference with a 3.12 ERA, while also holding opponents to a conference-low .234 batting average. FIU enters the series fourth in Conference USA with a 4.02 ERA.

The first game of the series will begin Friday, March 31, as FIU’s Robert Garcia (1-4, 3.10 ERA) will square off against UAB’s Thomas Lowery (2-1, 2.37). First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Chris Mourelle (2-1, 3.78) is set to take the mound for the Panthers in the second game of the series, while Nick MacDonald (3-0, 2.55 ERA) will pitch in the final game of the series. The Blazers have yet to announce their starting pitchers for games two and three of the series.  

Game two of the series will be Saturday, April 1, at 7 p.m., while the final game of the series is set for Sunday, April 2, at noon.

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