Panthers even series with Cajuns, 8-2
R. J. Fondon scattered five hits over eight innings and Florida International made the most of their opportunities as FIU defeated Louisiana 8-2 to even their series at one game each.
FIU (21-16, 6-8 SBC) scored twice in the first inning. Cajuns starter Joe Zimmerman (1-3) walked leadoff hitter Pablo Bermudez and Garrett Wittels reached on third baseman Jordan Bourque's throwing error. Jeremy Patton's single got one run home and the other scored on a double play, giving FIU an early 2-0 lead. The Panthers increased their lead in the second when T. J. Shantz walked with one out. Shantz, running on a 3-2 pitch, beat Greg Fontenot to second on a potential double play ball hit by Yaondy Barroso and Fontenot had to settle for the out at first. Iosmel Leon then singled up the middle with two outs to make the score 3-0.
The Cajuns got on the board in the fourth when Jordan Porrier got a one out single. Lance Marvel reached on a fielders choice and a throwing error put runners at the corners. Matt Goulas' sacrifice fly made it 3-1, but Fondon (2-3) avoided further damage by getting Tyler Frederick on a popup.
FIU came right back against Zimmerman in the fourth, as Mike Martinez, Jabari Henry and Shantz all singled to load the bases. Reliever Chase Traffica allowed a run-scoring single by Barroso and a second run scored with Leon hit into a double play, giving the Panthers a 5-1 lead.
The Cajuns (20-15, 8-6 SBC) tried to rally in the sixth. Michael Strentz led off with triple off the wall in center. Jordan Bourque then lined out before Alex Fuselier doubled in Strentz to make the score 5-2. But there would be no more scoring as a popup and ground out ended the inning.
FIU answered back wtih a two out RBI single by Martinez, and added insurance runs on a two out double by Henry in the seventh and another run on a wild pitch in the eighth.
Fondon threw less than a hundred pitches in his eight innings of work before Byram Garcia finished in the ninth.
The two teams will play the rubber game of the series tomorrow morning at 11am. The game time has been moved up one hour because of impending weather in Miami. Lefty T. J. Geith will pitch for the Cajuns. The Panthers will counter with righty Daniel DeSimone.