Before the ORU series, I wasn't sure about the bullpen, although coaches and players have said all along that the pen would be the strength of the team this season.
Also outside of being down 3-0 in the early innings of the season opener, FIU wasn't really tested against the Terrapins and I wasn't sure how the Panthers would react when faced with some adversity.
Well, the Panthers responded to both of those concerns against the Golden Eagles this past weekend.
With the help of two Lammar Guy (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) game-winning RBI, FIU got another three-game sweep to start the season 6-0 -- FIU's best start since 2000.
In Friday's game, FIU kept swinging the bats and Scott Rembisz pitched a masterful game.
On Saturday and Sunday, we got to see the bullpen and FIU's reaction when the chips are down.
The Panthers rallied from down 6 runs in the 7th inning on Saturday and the bullpen did a solid job late with Daniel DeSimone, Eric Berkowitz and company giving the FIU bats a chance to rally by keeping the deficit at 6 runs.
And what you had to like about Saturday and Sunday's rallies were that they were fueled by several different Panthers, whereas in years past FIU had to rely on the same 2 or 3 hitters to get something going.
Saturday's game had sophomore Raiko Alfonso (2-run double), freshman Rudy Flores (3-run bomb), junior Yoandy Barroso (2 steals), sophomore Jeremy Patton (double in the 9th, left, thanks AJH photo) and senior Lammar Guy (game-winning RBI single) that all contributed in the rally.
On Sunday, sophomore Aaron Arboleya had another quality start. Then down 5-4 in the 8th, reliever Bryam Garcia made his FIU debut and held ORU scoreless for 2 gritty innings to give FIU a chance to tie. Jorge Marban ran into some tough luck in the 10th, but did not panic and kept it a 1-run game for the bottom of the 10th.
By the way, Garcia (right, thanks AJH photo) has some nasty stuff. FIU may have found its closer in No. 44.
Guy (double) and Patton (single) drew FIU within 5-4 on Sunday. Garrett Wittels gave the 10th inning rally some life with a single after Tim Jobe was walked and then freshman Jabari Henry had a senior-like at-bat.
With the bases loaded in the 10th and FIU down 6-5, Henry displayed that patience that we saw in his first college at-bats last week against Maryland. Instead, of going up there swinging at whatever to try and be the hero, Henry didn't like anything that was thrown and drew the game-tying walk. Not sure how many freshman across college baseball are Company Jones interns like Henry. He's an intern, because he's a freshman.
Guy capped it all off with his second straight game-winning RBI on a sac fly.
The FIU bullpen's work was very encouraging this past weekend, but just as or maybe even more important was the attitude the Panthers took when struck with adversity. They didn't panic and like Wittels said after the game: "The biggest thing for our team is confidence. Like coach Thomas was preaching Saturday night, when you come to the park thinking and knowing you are going to win is the biggest thing."
ISIAH HELPS GANGS
FIU coach Isiah Thomas missed Saturday's game against Western Kentucky, because of the Sun Belt's 1-game suspension for getting ejected from a game. Where was Isiah on Sunday? In Chicago: Isiah Back Home
Will have a late-night LIVE HOOPS BLOG of the FIU/Denver game from Hot Springs on Saturday night. Brew some Cuban coffee and stay up with the GPP.
Speaking of FIU hoops, 6-6 shooting guard Torgrim Sommerfeldt (left) attended FIU's game against Middle Tennessee. TS, who is from Norway, originally was headed to Wake Forest until injuring a knee and the Demon Deacons pulled his scholie. Nothing concrete on TS becoming a Panther yet.
SPRING FOOTBALL STARTS WEDNESDAY
In case, you missed the previous post that's where you can check out the 2010 FIU Football schedule.
FIU Spring football starts on Wednesday at 3:45 p.m. at FIU Stadium. So far all practices are open to the public. Will have your spring football preview on here Tuesday.
Vote on the 2010 FIU schedule below.