The Golden Panthers played inspired baseball to defeat the No. 1 canes and properly close out the 35-year-old crosstown series with a win last Wednesday in Coral Gables. And yesterday, FIU won the three-game series against the Sun Belt's No. 1 team, Louisiana-Monroe, by belting out a season-high 20 hits, including Ryan Mollica (right) going 5 for 6 with a grand slam.
With the way the season started, it would have been hard to fathom that FIU would be in contention at this point. But the Golden Panthers hitting has not stopped. There seems to be some meshing with the pitching staff, in particular, Corey Polizzano, Eric Horstmann (left), James Lajiness and Jorge Marban, and the defense has gotten better with their recent run of errorless games.
The Golden Panthers success of late has been a simple baseball formula that has worked since the game was invented in the late 1800's. You may have heard it in the greatest baseball movie of all-time Bull Durham (below, right): "You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball." FIU has been doing it all of late.
Now there are 9 conference games left and to show you how competitive the Sun Belt is in baseball. The 5th place team, Western Kentucky, and 9th place, FIU are separated by just 3 games. The catch is that FIU has lost the season series/tiebreaker to two of those four teams: Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee. South Alabama, which is in 6th comes to FIU for a 3-game series starting May 9 and FIU already took the series against Louisiana-Lafayette.
While all the pieces (notably, pitching) are not in place yet for FIU to possibly make a serious run in the NCAA postseason this year, it has been encouraging of late to see the Golden Panthers make a push for the postseason.
FIU has 9 big games left starting this coming Friday at Arkansas State. If they keep throwing the ball, catching the ball and hitting the ball, then who knows, stranger things have happened.
Need to make a correction from the last post after checking FIU records. The Golden Panthers baseball team's win last week against a No. 1 team was not the first time an FIU sports team has knocked off the top team in the country. FIU men's soccer team beat No. 1 UCLA in 1999. It was, however, the first time FIU baseball beat No. 1.
FIU Fanatic, Clawing Cancer & FIUJM: Thanks for the props on the Marshall McDuffie (right) story. He's good kid, who decided to make the right choices in the aftermath of the brawl. MM got his degree today and is headed to grad school while he plays his last year at safety for FIU this fall.
CJ: You are a master at understanding T.D.A.O.S. I got a friend who has expressed interest in printing those t-shirts.
Crazy Cane: Actually, it's a pleasure covering FIU. When I get to writing a book about FIU, it will be a much more interesting read to learn how the Golden Panthers program rose from the bottom to the top.