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Halfway Home

We're one game past the halfway mark of the FIU baseball season and here's the difference between last year's record and this season's record after 29 games: FIU in 2008 (11-18, 5-4 Sun Belt); FIU in 2009 (19-10, 8-4 Sun Belt).

Although the last two games beg to differ, we've seen an improved Panthers team in several areas whenBull you look at 2008 and before compared to 2009. Yes, FIU still has plenty to get better on the diamond, but let's take a look at the 2009 Panthers at the halfway point of the season before a pivotal 3-game series at Middle Tennessee for 2nd place and possibly 1st (depending on what Western Kentucky does this weekend).

Taking a page from former Durham Bulls catcher Crash Davis (far right), we'll follow his memorable quote to check on the Panthers: "This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains."

This is a very simple game....

Remb Sure has been when Scott Rembisz (thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo), Tom Ebert and Corey Polizzano have taken the mound. Tyler Townsend and his .456 average and 10 bombs have made it look simple too. As has Ryan Mollica already with 40 RBI, plus a .350 avg. and 7 home runs.

You throw the ball....

Besides the three starting pitchers, freshman R.J. Fondon has pitched very well of late, not counting the Gulf Coast game on Wednesday.

The FIU bullpen, as we all know has not been good, but there is talent there with the freshmen and sophomores. These young pitchers have to learn to trust their stuff, attack hitters and not nibble soMmcv much. Turtle doesn't just hand out scholarships like dinner mints at a restaurant. If TT gave a scholie to a pitcher, then he has to have talent. Among some of the freshmen hurlers: Mason McVay (right, AJH photo), Andre Vazquez and Aaron Arboleya all can pitch in Division I, they just got to be more aggressive going after hitters and trust what they throw.

You catch the ball....

The fielding has been much better for FIU this season, but there is still room for improvement. Leading Jr the way has been Junior Arrojo (left, AJH photo), who has been smooth at shortstop and much better now in his junior season. Freshmen Raiko Alfonso and Garrett Wittels have done a good job at 3rd. Lammar Guy has filled in just fine in center field for Pablo Bermudez, who has had a nagging hamstring all season long. Townsend has made the adjustment to right field from 1st base with no problems.

You hit the ball....

A .331 team average, scoring 10 or more runs in 12 of 29 games and scoring at least 20 runs twice, FIU can hit. When your No. 9 hitter, Arrojo, is hitting .341 -- your lineup can hit. One of the more impressive hitters this season besides the regular mashers (Townsend, Mollica) has been freshman Mike Martinez (right, AJH photo). At the plate, MM doesn't look like a freshman, spraying the ball around Martinez and using the whole field when he hits. Tim Jobe has got monster power as evidenced by the bomb he hit against Florida Gulf Coast that is about to land at U.S. Century Bank Arena some time later tonight.

Sometimes you win....

Until the mid-week hiccup games this week, FIU has won more than just sometimes this season -- which has created a buzz for the baseball program that had been missing since the Super Regional run in 2001. TT (left, AJH photo) has changed the culture of the program Tt where guys are excited to come to the park every day and are playing a much cleaner game on the field. You see guys constantly backing up plays on the field where that wasn't always the case. Players are running the bases much smarter as FIU already surpassed its stolen base total from last season (32). The Panthers have already stolen 39 bases this season.

Sometimes you lose....

We're not making reservations for Omaha just yet. As seen by some of the losses, FIU still has to acquire more pieces to the puzzle. For one, you can never have enough pitchers. As TT said Wednesday, FIU only has 10 pitchers right now. Another recruiting class worth of pitchers will only help. As will having fireballing Dominican right-hander Miguel Mejia and Bryam Garcia eligible next season. Getting some more power in the lineup might be on the to-do list as FIU keeps building its baseball program.

Sometimes it rains....

With a relatively young team, you can expect some ups and downs with the Panthers this season -- such as the wacky mid-week losses that within the next couple of seasons FIU won't lose those games anymore. Then there are the two 20-run wins for FIU against Jacksonville and Arkansas-Little Rock. Or  that FIU has not lost a series this season and won series against 3 of the top 5 teams in the Sun Belt (Troy, Louisiana and Western Kentucky). FIU and Middle Tennessee would be the other 2 top teams in the conference. On its 32-man roster entering this season, FIU has 19 underclassmen (freshmen and sophomores) and 11 juniors of which 7 are playing Division I baseball for the first time. There are only 2 seniors on the roster (Mollica and Steven Stropp).

Logo PANTHER PAWSE

Apaw FIU Stadium will now host 5 games on Miami FC's schedule beginning on April 24 to make the 7 screen names/1 person on the GPP happy.

Apaw Quijote is reading us from Scotland so let's tack on another country to our worldwide readership. So the 44/30/1/1 Club has been renamed to the 44/31/1/1 Club:

Globe GPP WORLDWIDE READERSHIP SCORECARD:

The GPP is now read in: 44 STATES: ALA, ARI, ARK, CA, COL, CT, DEL, FLA, GA, HI, IDAHO, IL, IND, IOWA, KAN, KY, LA, MASS, MD, MICH, MIN, MISS, MISSOURI, MON, NEB, NEV, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, OK, ORE, PA, RI, SC, TEN, TEX, UTAH, VA, VER, WASH, WEST VA., WISC.

31 COUNTRIES: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, France, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Mexico, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Scotland, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, U.S.A., Venezuela, Vietnam.

1 DISTRICT: Washington, D.C. and 1 TERRITORY: Puerto Rico.


Apaw There is no college baseball All-Star Game at the halfway point of the season, but you can still vote on your Panthers in 3 polls:


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