The FIU bats woke up late in the series finale against ULM, but when the Panthers shook off their Sunday slumber they wrapped up a series-clinching 11-7 win over the Warhawks.
FIU (20-15, 8-7 Sun Belt Conference) erupted for 10 runs in its final two turns at bat to erase a 4-1 deficit to the Warhawks (14-22, 4-11 SBC). The Panthers scored five runs in the seventh and five runs in the eighth.
Down 4-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Panthers drew three walks to start the inning. Nathan Burns, T.J. Shantz and Roche Woodard were the recipients of the free passes. Oscar Aguirre followed with a bases loaded single to close the gap to 4-2.
Tyler Hibbert tied the score with a two-run single that hopped over the outstretched glove of first baseman Corben Green and into right field. With the score tied 4-4 and two outs in the seventh,
Edwin Rios lined a single up the middle to give FIU a 6-4 advantage. Rios went 4 for 5 with three RBI to improve his batting average to a team-leading .385. Rios (photo above) also has a team-leading 34 RBI.
ULM came right back in the top of the eighth inning against FIU reliever Mitchell Davis. Green singled to start the inning and Taylor Abdalla walked. Albert Cardenas replaced Davis and got a fly out to left and a 6-4-3 double play to leave the Warhawks scoreless
in the eighth.
Davis (5-2) would pick up the win and tie Mike Franco – Sunday’s starter – for the team lead. Franco went six innings, allowed four runs and struck out seven batters. Cardenas recorded his third save.
The Panthers put the game away in the bottom of the eighth as Aguirre delivered another RBI single to make it 7-4. Aguirre was 2 for 4 with two RBI.
Two batters later, Aramis Garcia launched his seventh home run -- a grand slam -- just to the right of the left field foul pole to extend the lead to 11-4. It was Garcia’s team-leading seventh home run of the season.
FIU returns to the diamond Tuesday as it hosts Bethune-Cookman in a 4 p.m. matinee from the FIU Baseball Stadium.
Fans can watch all FIU home baseball games on PantherVision at FIUSports.com.