So close, yet so far: FIU baseball falls to Miami in rematch

Junior Dante Girardi up to bat. Photo courtesy of FIU Athletics.

William Duval | Staff writer 

After fighting through much adversity, FIU Baseball came up short, losing 6-5 to the Miami Hurricanes on March 28, 2023, at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field. 

Prior to this matchup, FIU was coming off a 5-2 loss against the UAB Blazers and was looking for some momentum moving forward. After dropping two of their last three games, the Panthers held a 13-12 record and were trying to stay above .500. 

The game began an hour and fifteen minutes late due to a rain delay. This impacted the play of the early game, with no team scoring until the third inning. 

To start the third, the Panthers couldn’t make a hit, receiving two outs in their first two at-bats. This is when redshirt sophomore Brendan Roney would step up to the plate and hammer in an emphatic solo home run.

FIU would take a 1-0 lead over the Hurricanes, but Miami wasn’t looking to back down.

In the bottom of the third, Miami junior CJ Kayfus played a substantial role in Miami’s offense, beginning his night being walked. Then after a passed ball by FIU, Kayfus advanced his way to second base. 

It was then junior Yohandy Morales at-bat, making a hit allowing Kayfus to progress his way to third. With prime position to score, Kayfus would run in for Miami’s first run after a single from junior Zach Levenson.

Methodical in their approach, the Hurricanes tied the game at 1-1, and FIU was looking to respond.

In a fourth inning that lacked any offense, redshirt senior Alec Sanchez hit a home run, giving the Panthers a 2-1 lead.

The fourth inning was dominated by FIU on both offense and defense, mostly due to the efforts of Sanchez. Miami senior Dario Gomez made a huge hit to left field that seemed like it would be a home run. 

At this point, Sanchez would sprint to the ball and make a jumping catch to prevent the score. This massive play would seemingly halt any momentum Miami was building, as the score remained the same until the seventh inning.

To start the seventh inning, junior Dante Girardi would make a hit and make a tough slide to second base. Then Sanchez would make a hit that was good for a single and a score from Girardi, extending FIU’s lead to 3-1.

FIU’s pitching allowed many walks through the game, but it never seemed to affect them until the seventh inning. At the bottom of the seventh, junior Jack Scanlon was Miami’s first hitter of the inning and received a walk. 

Kayfus would then return for the offense, hitting a massive two-run home run to tie the game at 3-3.

The eighth inning showcased an FIU team that was focused and trying to pull away with a win. After two hitters were walked and a bunt from Roney, FIU had runners at first and second bases. 

Girardi would make a hit for a single, allowing both redshirt junior Robert Sotolongo and freshman Roylan Quevedo to score. FIU reclaimed the lead, holding a score of 5-3.

The Panthers held this lead until the bottom of the ninth inning, when it was Miami’s turn on offense. FIU would strike out Miami’s first two hitters and was looking to close out the game.

Sophomore Edgardo Villegas was walked, with FIU’s pitching doing so for the seventh time this game. Then Morales would make a hit for a single, allowing Villegas to advance to second base. 

It was then Levenson who returned to the plate, knowing he had to make a hit in order to win the game. He would smash in a three-run home run, giving the Hurricanes a 6-5 lead, winning the game.

After a heartbreaking defeat, the Panthers’ record falls to 13-13 on the season. They look to bounce back in their next matchup against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders. The game will be played on Friday, March 31, 2023, at Floyd Stadium in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. 

First pitch is set for 7:00 p.m. and will be broadcasted on ESPN+.

Follow William Duval on Twitter at @WillDuval40

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