Richard Gibson/Staff Writer
Coming off an impressive series sweep against Fordham where FIU put up 46 total runs, their biggest priority was to stay hot on the road. Heading to Daytona Beach, the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats contested FIU early, but the Panthers would breakthrough, earning an impressive 6-1 victory.
The first inning for both Bethune-Cookman and FIU felt like a repeat of the first innings of the Fordham series: Nothing happened. FIU got no hits, and the Wildcats, courtesy of pitcher Angel Tiburcio, couldn’t do anything either.
The top of the second saw action for FIU. After a walk by Jose Garcia, Juan Teixiera would double, bringing Jose home. The Panthers wouldn’t maintain the lead for long, however, as Bethune Cookman would single, double, then single once more, scoring their own run. Once the inning was over, it would be tied, 1-1.
Things got busy for FIU in the third. Robert Sotolongo and Alec Sanchez both singled. Garcia then walked, filling the bases. A walk by Justin Farmer would bring in Kaeber Rog, who subbed for Sotolongo, regaining the lead for FIU. After a 1-2-3 series for Bethune-Cookman, FIU finished the third with a 2-1 lead, and wouldn’t look back.
The fourth inning for FIU sealed the deal. Teixiera singled, then Seth Cannady walked. Jarrett Ford would reach on an error by Bethune-Cookman, allowing Cannady and Teixiera to score. Bethune-Cookman put one runner on base, but that was all for the fourth inning. FIU would now lead by a score of 4-1.
If the fourth inning sealed the deal, the fifth inning was icing on the cake. Following a single by Sanchez, Farmer tripled, bringing Sanchez home. An RBI by Teixiera would bring in Farmer, and FIU increased their lead to 6-1. Bethune-Cookman would put another runner on base, but that was it for them.
The sixth inning saw no hits for either team. For FIU, Rog was hit by a pitch, then Sanchez walked. Bethune-Cookman also got a walk, but couldn’t convert it into runs.
A 1-2-3 series for FIU in the seventh gave the Wildcats an opportunity. After a single, walk, and a player being hit by a pitch, the bases were loaded. However, some clutch pitching by Jose Machado would get the outs FIU needed to secure the lead.
The eighth inning saw a single by Rog, but that was it. A pair of walks for Bethune-Cookman gave them another opportunity, but a double-play by FIU would seal the inning.
The ninth inning saw Sanchez earn a single, but FIU couldn’t add any more runs. With pitcher Jose Varela subbing in for FIU, Bethune-Cookman couldn’t make the comeback, ending the game with a 1-2-3 series. Tiburcio picks up the 6-1 win for FIU.
FIU put up eight total hits out of 32 at-bats, and committed no errors. Bethune-Cookman was held to five total hits in 29 at-bats. Both teams managed six walks and 10 strikeouts. Sanchez led the hits category with three total, and both Farmer and Teixiera earned two RBIs each.
FIU now has a perfect 4-0 record, and they’re tied for first place in Conference USA with Florida Atlantic, Southern Miss, and Louisiana Tech.
The Panthers will now begin a ten-game home series, starting against George Mason. The first game is on Friday, February 21st, and the series will continue to Sunday, February 23rd. After that, they’ll play against Pepperdine, Penn, then Bethune-Cookman once more.