FIU used a huge third inning to batter Middle Tennessee, 12-3, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee on Friday night. The Panthers (21-16, 9-7 Sun Belt Conference) collected 10 hits and scored 10 runs in the top of the third inning to fuel a victory in the opening
game of a three-game series with the Blue Raiders (21-19, 6-10 SBC).
Three consecutive singles by Zach Sweety, Roche Woodard and Julius Gaines started the third inning. After a strikeout, the Panthers strung together four more consecutive hits. Aramis Garcia and Edwin Rios each had an RBI single. Josh Anderson
followed with an RBI double and Nathan Burns had an RBI single to make it 5-0.
After a walk to Oscar Aguirre, Sweety, Woodard (photo above) and Gaines continued the hit parade in the third inning. Sweety singled for the second time in the inning. Woodard then hit a grand slam to clear the bases and extend the FIU lead to 10-0. Gaines
followed Woodard with a single to give Sweety, Woodard and Gaines each two hits in the third inning.
With the great run support, FIU left-hander Tyler Alexander cruised. Alexander (3-5) pitched six innings, allowed two earned runs and struck out five batters. Freshmen Jason Morozowski and Chris Elander combined to pitch the final three scoreless innings.
Morozowski pitched two innings.
Gaines led the Panthers going 4 for 5. Woodard was 3 for 5 with the grand slam. Sweety was 2 for 3. Garcia and Anderson were each 2 for 5. Anderson had a pair of RBI doubles.
The Panthers and Blue Raiders play game two of the series at 5 p.m. Saturday.