Baseball looks to regroup in four game series against Notre Dame

Senior first baseman Ryne Guida sliding into home-plate against Charlotte. Photo courtesy of FIU Athletics.

Will Duval | Sports Director

The FIU baseball team is returning home from a short road trip and hosting the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a four game series, beginning on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024 in Miami, Florida.

Coming into this series, the Panthers hold a 3-1 record through the early stages of the season. In their previous game on Tuesday, Feb. 20, they had their three game win streak snapped and took a 10-4 loss to the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Vs. Bethune-Cookman:

To open up the game, redshirt junior first baseman Brylan West hit a single on FIU’s first at-bat. However, his quick start didn’t ignite the team’s offense, as he was the only player to register a hit during the first inning.

Neither team was able to score until the second inning, where the Wildcats took a firm control of the game. After a fruitless second inning from the Panthers, they began their defensive possession by walking their opponent’s first two players. 

With good positioning on the bases, junior infielder Ramses Cordova hit a single and allowed graduate student outfielder Jose Gonzalez to score. This marked the beginning of a scoring run, as the team went on to score on all three of their next at-bats.

Able to build a 3-0 lead before the end of the second inning, Bethune-Cookman had set the tone of the game early on.

FIU escaped the second inning facing a manageable deficit and needed to score in order to remain within striking distance. But, their endeavors were fruitless until the top of the fifth inning, where they faced an even larger deficit.

Trailing 5-0 to start the fifth, senior infielder Adrian Figueroa registered a single as the team’s first hitter of the period. Two at-bat’s later, West hit a triple and allowed Figueroa to reach home plate and score the team’s first run of the game.

Senior first baseman Ryne Guida then followed up his teammate’s triple with a triple of his own. The hit allowed West to run from third base to home and cut the Panthers’ deficit to 5-2.

Despite FIU’s efforts to rally in the fifth inning, it ultimately only resulted in two runs and left them at a deficit with time running out. Their three point margin on the scoreboard wouldn’t last long, as they’d give up two more runs at the bottom of the inning.

Facing a 7-2 disadvantage, the team couldn’t make defensive stops or keep pace with the Wildcats’ scoring. While the Panthers did score two more runs in the seventh inning, it wouldn’t be enough to scrape away the lead.

Bethune-Cookman finished off their scoring by adding on three runs and eventually claimed a 10-4 victory. They snapped FIU’s three game win streak and limited an offense that showed firepower over their first three games.

As a team, the Panthers struggled to capitalize on scoring opportunities and were largely inconsistent outside of a few players. Even though they finished the game with nine hits, players were left on base 10-times and it only resulted in four runs.

Comparatively, the Wildcats had eight fewer at-bats and six total hits, but it resulted in 10-runs. The main factor in their success was a combination of powerful hitting and their opponent’s pitching struggles.

While FIU was only walked once over the entire game, they walked their opponent seven times. Even though they held four fewer strikeouts, it wasn’t enough to compensate for the free bases that were given up.

Offensively, the Panthers had multiple players make a major statistical contribution, with Guida and West leading the charge. The duo was responsible for half of the team’s points, as they both registered three hits and an RBI.

Looking to turn things around in their next matchup, FIU returns home to host Notre Dame in a four game series, beginning on Friday, Feb. 23.

Vs. Notre Dame:

Entering this matchup, the Fighting Irish hold a 3-0 record and are coming off a 13-10 win over the Rice Owls on Sunday, Feb. 18. As a team, they displayed an ability to dominate opponents while on the road, as they’ve won all three of their away games.

For the majority of the game, Notre Dame had to fight from behind, as they had to score five times in the seventh inning to claim a lead. Going down to nearly the last second, the ninth inning began with the score tied at 8-8.

At this point, the team displayed their prowess at the plate and completely took control over the game. Freshman catcher Carson Tinney opened up the inning by hitting a powerful home run in his first and only at-bat of the game.

Having staked a 9-8 advantage, the Fighting Irish looked to continue scoring and build a larger cushion. Over their next three at-bats, they’d manage to load all three of the bases.

Graduate student outfielder Tito Flores sealed the deal and delivered his team a powerful grand-slam. With four players scoring, he secured his team a 13-8 advantage and put the game out of reach for their opponent.

Sweeping their three game series against the Owls, Notre Dame displayed their resilience in the face of adversity. They’ve demonstrated the ability to be a high powered offense and a lockdown defense when necessary.

If the Panthers wish to leave this matchup victorious, they must limit unnecessary errors and have consistent pitching. The main reason why they lost their previous game was because of the amount of walks they allowed.

Over the team’s first three games of the season, they scored a total of 45-runs and displayed the ability to be a potent offense. However, relying solely on offense can only work against teams who aren’t elite defensively.

When FIU’s offense isn’t generating points, it’s their job defensively to make stops and not give away easy points. Repetitively walking hitters and giving opposing teams the opportunity to score a large number of points at once won’t help them win a game.

Returning home from a one game road trip, the FIU baseball team is hosting the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a four game series, beginning on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024 in Miami, Florida.

First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. at the FIU Baseball Stadium and the game will be broadcasted on ESPN+.

Follow Will Duval on X: @WillDuval40

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