Brandon Cosme | Contributing Writer
FIU Baseball clashed with the Charlotte 49ers in a three-game series, taking the first two games before being defeated on Sunday, May 14, in the series’ final game at the FIU Baseball Stadium.
The first two innings saw Charlotte go scoreless while the Panthers capped it off with a pair of RBIs from junior Henry Wallen.
In the third inning, the Panthers went ballistic, jumping out to a massive 11-0 lead with a scoring run brought about by a string of four home runs from juniors Ryne Guida and Dante Girardi, sophomore Bryan Loriga and redshirt senior Alec Sanchez.
FIU wrapped up its scoring for the day in the fourth inning after a couple of wild pitches from Charlotte brought redshirt sophomore Brendan Roney and junior Cesar Franco in to balloon the lead to 13-1.
Despite a two-run sixth inning and one final run in the ninth, the 49ers couldn’t catch up and fell to the Panthers 13-4.
With a hot start, the Panthers looked to keep the momentum going on Saturday in Game 2.
Both Charlotte and FIU started off slow, but the 49ers broke the ice with one run in the fourth inning and followed it up with a two-run fifth inning for a 3-0 lead.
The Panthers kept fighting as redshirt senior Craig Palidar hit a home run to start off the bottom of the seventh inning.
Guida followed up by batting redshirt senior Mike Rosario in and Loriga tied the game up with a home run to left field.
With the game tied heading into the ninth, Charlotte had yet to score since the fifth inning and the momentum was on Panthers’ side. With two outs, Girardi clinched the series win with an RBI single that brought Wallen in.
Even after suffering early struggles, Girardi’s confidence in the team never wavered.
“Our team kept us in that game. I had a tough first four at-bats, but not one was bigger than that last one.”
But Girardi wasn’t the only Panther to understand the importance of staying strong in such an important game. Loriga made his feelings clear about the late-game comeback.
“It honestly feels surreal, it was crazy,” said Loriga. “This team fights like hell. We’re happy, we’re excited to get the series win.”
The final game of the series opened up with a trio of runs from Charlotte.
After retaliating with a Guida double to bring Sanchez home, FIU had three runs of its own in the third inning to take a 4-3 lead.
The 49ers then delivered a timely four runs to snatch the lead back before the Panthers came within one with a pair of runs in the sixth.
Charlotte held FIU scoreless for the rest of the game and pulled away with two runs late in the game to finish the game, defeating the Panthers 9-6.
The Panthers now play in their final home game of the season against the Miami Hurricanes at FIU Baseball Stadium on Tuesday, May 16, at 6:30 p.m.
Follow Brandon Cosme on Twitter at @brandonjaymz01