FIU Completes Opening Weekend Sweep

Second baseman Jarret Ford rounding second base. Courtesy of FIU Athletics

Alex Rivera/Staff Writer

The Panthers already won the series on Saturday, but Sunday afternoon was the Panthers’ first opportunity of the season to sweep the series against the Fordham Rams, and they did so in emphatically with a 18-2 victory. 

The starting pitcher for the Panthers, Will Saxton, would pitch for five innings, only allowing two hits and was able to avoid walking any batters. The bottom of the first would be the start of the avalanche of runs Fordham had to deal with Sunday. Seven runs would come in, the first homerun of the season for the Panthers would come from Jose Garcia, and the lineup would cycle through. At the same time defensively, Fordham would switch to a new pitcher after the first two outs. 

The second inning would see Juan Teixeira bring in Justin Farmer for the only run of the inning. The third inning would be the only inning of the game that the Panthers failed to score, with Derek Cartaya, Alec Sanchez and Jose Garcia only getting outs. 

The middle innings would see FIU scoring two runs an inning. The bottom of the fourth would start with two outs, until Teixeira was able to draw a walk and Luis Chavez was able to hit a home run, opening the game up to 10 runs to nothing.

The fifth would be Saxton’s last of the game, with the leadoff batter getting a long ball caught in the outfield. The second batter for Fordham would get the second hit Saxton threw, only to end in double play from the next batter. 

Fordham was forced to switch pitchers again, but FIU was able to load the bases with no outs. FIU would score after Fordham pitcher Wall threw a wild pitch that brought in Jarrett Ford. In the same at bat, Farmer hit a grounder that brought in Cartaya and the second out.

The top of the sixth saw a new pitcher for FIU, Cody Cortelli, who would only allow one hit for the inning. The bottom of the sixth would see pinch hitters for the Panthers, Humberto Torres, Kaeber Rog and Seth Cannady. Torres and Rog would get on base, and Cannady would get a hit down the middle bringing the runners in for the two runs of the inning.

It would be in the seventh inning that the Rams would get their only runs of the game. Pitching for FIU was Greyson Fletcher. Designated Hitter Alvin Melendez would be the first to get on base, followed by Richard Grund. Fletcher would throw a wild pitch, allowing Melendez to bring in Fordham’s first run of the game. Justin Machado would get a hit after the ball was dropped, all the while Grund was able to bring in the second run. 

FIU would respond at the bottom of the seventh, as Teixeira would hit a solo home run after getting to a full count with only one out. The inning ended with a chopper from Rog to second that was thrown to first before he could get to the bag. 

The bottom of the eight would be the last time the Panthers took to the field offensively on Sunday. Cannady would hit a chopper to second on his first pitch, Cartaya would hit a ball down the middle, getting runners on first and second. Sanchez would hit the fourth homerun of the game for the Panthers, bringing in the runners from first and second.

The top of the ninth saw a new pitcher for FIU, Gio Soto, who was able to close out the game in just seven pitches. 

While the final score was 18-2, the game seemed over from the onset. However, there were issues. The Panthers had three errors to their name Sunday afternoon, adding to the four committed in the two previous games. Panthers Coach Mervyl Melendez said “…we got to clean up our defensive mistakes, miscues that we made but other than that we just need to build upon this weekend.”

The Panthers scored a collective 46 runs this opening weekend, and hope to continue their winning ways as they go to their first away game against Bethune-Cookman on Tuesday in Daytona Beach. 

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