Panthers steal win from jaws of defeat, take down FGCU

Redshirt junior Henry Wallen swinging. Photo courtesy of FIU Athletics.

William Duval | Staff writer 

After their previous matchup was canceled due to poor weather, FIU baseball defeated the FGCU Eagles 5-4 on April 19, 2023, at FIU Baseball Stadium.

The Panthers lost three games in a row against LA Tech coming into this one, giving them a 14-22 record. FGCU is a tough matchup as they were ranked 24th in Baseball America’s Top 25 rankings with a 27-9 record.

In their previous faceoff, the Panthers took a 5-12 loss to the Eagles, falling 0-2 in the season series. If FIU wanted any chance of winning, they’d have to limit FGCU’s scoring.

The game started with no team making a hit until the bottom of the second inning. 

Junior Ryne Guida started up the Panthers’ offense with a hit toward right field for a single. Immediately after, junior Adrian Figueroa hit and got out at first base, but it gave Guida enough time to make it to second.

Junior Cesar Franco took advantage of this, hitting a double down the infield line, allowing Guida to run in for FIU’s first score, 1-0. 

In the next at-bat, redshirt senior Craig Palidar hit a single, allowing Franco to run in for another score for the Panthers.

FIU took a 2-0 advantage over the Eagles to end the second inning.

FGCU responded quickly in the third when senior Jalen Townsend hit a single, injecting some life into the Eagles’ offense.

Sophomore Edrick Felix then delivered a massive hit toward left center, resulting in a two-run home run for the Eagles to tie the game, 2-2.

While both the Panthers and Eagles would have hits in multiple innings, neither team scored again until the 11th inning.

To start the 11th inning, both of FGCU’s first two batters made hits resulting in outs. 

Redshirt sophomore Jacob Lojewski stepped up to the plate and was walked, prolonging the Eagles’ time on offense.

With the offense showing signs of life, sophomore Harrison Povey smashed in a clutch two-run home run, giving the Eagles a 4-2 lead.

The Panthers needed to score in the 11th inning or they would run out of time to make a comeback. 

After singles from redshirt senior Alec Sanchez and Figueroa, FIU’s offense was beginning to respond.

Redshirt junior Henry Wallen made a timely hit, allowing Sanchez to score, cutting the deficit to 4-3.

Wallen’s hit was the last of FIU’s hits for the night, but the pitching errors from FGCU sealed the game.

After a wild pitch, the Panthers had players on both second and third base. In the next five at-bats, four Panthers were walked.

This allowed both Figueroa and Wallen to walk in for two scores, winning the game for FIU.

In an eleven-inning epic, the Panthers managed to scrape away a win from the Eagles with a final score of 5-4. 

FIU’s record improves to 15-22 on the season with this win being a morale booster for the team.

The Panthers’ next opponent is the UTSA Roadrunners on Friday, April 21, 2023, at FIU Baseball Stadium in Miami, Florida.

First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. in what is the first game of a three-game series.

Follow William Duval on Twitter at @WillDuval40 

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