FIU baseball sweeps Harvard, finishes with three walk-off victories

Junior Adrian Figueroa up to bat. Photo courtesy of FIU Athletics.

Brian Olmo | Sports Director 

FIU baseball swept the Harvard Crimson in a four-game series, wrapping it up with a finale on Sunday, March 5, 2023, at the FIU Baseball Stadium in Miami, Florida. 

The Panthers were coming off a 14-7 loss to FGCU, giving them a 3-6 record heading into this match. 

Game 1 started with FIU striking first, scoring two in the bottom of the first inning. 

Redshirt junior Henry Wallen hit his second RBI of the night, a ground ball through the middle, to score sophomore Marcus O’Malley and give the Panthers a 3-0 advantage. This play gave Wallen his seventh RBI total over the last two games. 

Harvard then rattled off three runs to make it an even ball game, which eventually resulted in extra innings. 

Junior Adrian Figueroa sealed the deal for FIU with a walk-off single in the 10th inning. Figueroa had been excellent all game long, as he went a perfect 4-4. The first game of the series went to the Panthers. 

Games 2 and 3 were part of a doubleheader, both happening on the same day. 

Harvard came out swinging, hitting two grand slams in the first and second inning. FIU answered with four runs in the first off a leadoff double by redshirt senior Mike Rosario to make the score 8-4. 

The Crimson kept chugging ahead full steam, with six more runs to take a massive 14-6 lead. It seemed like everything was under Harvard’s control, but the Panthers showcased their resiliency and began to mount a comeback.

Figueroa cut the lead to 14-9 with a two-run double in the sixth. Then six batters straight were put on base, leading to five scored runs to tie the game. 

Harvard retook the lead with a three-run inning at the top of the ninth, but FIU once again stormed back in it to finally win 18-17. Redshirt sophomore Brendan Roney drove in the winning runs. 

While all games so far had been close, the third was a completely different story, as the Panthers massacred a morally deflated Crimson team, 7-1. 

Rosario and O’Malley opened the game with back-to-back triples to give FIU a 2-0 lead. 

Junior Orlando Hernandez and redshirt senior Angel Tiburcio were giving the Crimson a tough time on the mound, pitching perfectly. Tiburcio limited Harvard to just four hits and one run in his five-inning outing, while Hernandez only allowed one walk and secured his first save of the year.

Redshirt junior Noel Perez gave the Panthers their seventh run of the day after beating out a grounder to the pitcher, making the final score 7-1.

In the finale, both teams started with leadoff doubles and scored on sacrifices to make the score 1-1.

After a solo home run puts the Crimson up 2-1, FIU had a high-scoring fifth inning that put them up 6-2. Juniors Steven Ondina and Dante Girardi each picked up an RBI while Figueroa and sophomore Bryan Lorgia had an RBI single and double respectively to end the five-run inning. 

Both teams proceeded to trade runs; FIU remained in command with a 7-3 lead at the top of the ninth. 

Harvard tied the game with two home runs and then regained the lead at the top of the 12th with another home run, 8-7. 

With the bases loaded, Ondina sent the ball through the left side and scored the winning run, 9-8. 

The Panthers finished the series with a sweep and three walk-off victories. 

FIU now prepares to face Stetson on Wednesday, March 8, at the FIU Baseball Arena. First pitch is set for 5 p.m. and the game can be viewed on C-USA TV. 

Follow Brian Olmo on Twitter at @Brian_Olmo11

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