Offensive highs and defensive lows: the baseball team’s 2024 season

Junior infielder Brylan West watches the ball fly away after his hit. Photo courtesy of FIU Athletics.

Adrian Benitez | Staff Writer

After reaching the second round of the Conference USA Championships, the FIU baseball team’s season came to an end with an 8-5 loss to the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers on May 24, 2024.

Eliminated from the tournament, the Panthers’ record was cemented at 27-30 for the season. Despite the outcome, their 2024 campaign still contained many high points for the program.

To begin their season, FIU swept the LIU Sharks in a three game home series on February 15-17, 2024. Over that three game span, they displayed their offensive firepower and outscored their opponent 45-15.

Following an undefeated start to the season, they couldn’t maintain their momentum and went 2-3 over their next five games. The team’s success was largely predicated around their ability to score, as they scored 10 runs in both of their wins against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

March 1-4 brought a four game series against Seton Hall. Despite losing the first two games, the Panthers battled back with defensive prowess to win the second half and secure another 2-2 split. They allowed a combined four runs in their victories.

Their next series was in Boca Raton, three games against the FAU Owls from March 8-10. The series would come down to the rubber match, where FIU was caught off their heels in a gargantuan 24-2 defeat that cemented their first series loss of the season.

CUSA play showcased the strengths and weaknesses of the Panthers. They won both of their series against Middle Tennessee and New Mexico State with their continued high-powered offense, scoring 35 and 49 runs in each series respectively.

On the other hand, defensive woes would rear their heads against Jacksonville State, Sam Houston and Liberty. The Panthers would lose all of these series, primarily due to giving up 30 or more runs in every one.

May would bring perhaps the biggest moment of the season for the Panthers, a 9-7 victory against the Miami Hurricanes on May 8. This was their first victory against their cross-city rival since 2018. A four run seventh inning from the offense sealed the victory.

Many Panthers were given conference honors for their efforts in the regular season, headlined by senior designated hitter Ryne Guida. Following his contributions, he was named to CUSA’s All-Conference First Team.

Guida finished the season with a .335 batting average, 75 hits, 56 RBI’s and led the team in each statistic. He also recorded 18 doubles, which was among the top five players of the conference.

Beyond Guida, junior infielder Brylan West, senior outfielder Armando Becerra and senior pitcher Orlando Hernandez were all named to the CUSA’s All-Conference Second Team.

West recorded a 1.059 OPS and 48 runs, both leading the team. He also led the Panthers in double plays turned, with 23.

Hernandez recorded a 1.57 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 34 innings pitched, recording two saves. Becerra finished with a .305 batting average, with a .938 OPS and .406 on base percentage.

FIU entered the 2024 CUSA Championship Bracket as the No. 66 seed , and they took an upset 7-5 victory against No. 3 seeded Western Kentucky Hilltoppers on May 22, 2024.

However, the Panthers were unable to maintain their momentum past the first round of the tournament. On the following day, their defense struggled to contain Dallas Baptist’s offense and it resulted in an 8-2 loss.

Despite the loss, FIU still had one more game to keep their season alive and it was a rematch against WKU. Although their offensive firepower was on full display, the game still ended in an 8-5 defeat for the Panthers.

Although the team showed consistent potency on offense through the year, their defense routinely cost them games as well. This polarity was the driving force behind the Panthers 27-30 record. 

If the Panthers can shore up their defensive issues, they should be able to find more two-way consistency on their way to a great season in 2025.

Follow Adrian Benitez on X: @ab305fiu

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