FIU used a four-run first inning and a four-run eighth inning to defeat Arkansas State, 8-7, Saturday afternoon at the FIU Baseball Stadium.
After the Red Wolves (16-12, 4-4 Sun Belt) scored two runs in the top of the first inning against FIU starter Ty Sullivan (3-2), the Panthers (14-12, 4-4 SBC) answered with four runs in the bottom of the inning. Nathan Burns had the big hit in the first
-- a two-run double that gave FIU the lead.
FIU led 4-3 going into the bottom of the eighth when the Panthers tacked on four more runs. FIU batted around and collected five hits to plate the four runs.
In the eighth, FIU got its first two runs on a double steal in which Oscar Aguirre stole home and Burns stole third base. Roche Woodard was trying to squeeze Aguirre in from third base, but missed the bunt attempt. However, ASU catcher Ryan Roberts couldn't
handle the pitch and the ball rolled away enough from home plate for Aguirre to be safe. Woodard would go on to hit an RBI single to make it 6-3 FIU.
The Red Wolves scored four runs with two outs in the ninth to narrow the FIU lead to 8-7, but right-hander Mitchell Davis finished the game to record his second save of the season.
Aramis Garcia and Julius Gaines led the Panthers. Garcia was 3 for 5 and raised his team-leading batting average to .364. Gaines was 3 for 4 and is second on the team with a .347 average. T.J. Shantz and Aguirre each had two hits for FIU.
After a shaky first inning, Sullivan pitched five gritty innings to record the victory.
Albert Cardenas struck out five batters in two scoreless relief innings to lower his team-leading ERA to 0.92. Cardenas (photo above), who leads the Panthers with 13 appearances, has not allowed a run since March 2.
FIU goes for the sweep of Arkansas State on Sunday morning. The first pitch of the series finale is at 11 a.m. due to Arkansas State's flight plans.