Of course, the sweep would have been nice -- and considering FIU rallied from five runs down Sunday afternoon, only to lose in the 11th, it was certainly within the realm of possibility -- but a series win is better than the alternative.
That puts FIU at 25-18, and in a three-way tie for fifth in the Sun Belt at 12-9, although only 3.5 games behind conference-leading FAU (29-15, 17-7). The magic number to get into the SBC tourney is 15 wins, Turtle Thomas says, so that seems pretty safe.
The NCAA at-large picture for FIU is a bit muddled, however. Considering their RPI (74), the Panthers' chances look slim on the surface. But the Panthers are 3-4 against the top 50, and 10-14 against the top 100, and the Sun Belt is the fifth-toughest conference in the country, so it's certainly possible that three SBC teams could get in.
But work certainly remains.
The good news is FIU will have ample opportunity to earn its way in. The Golden Panthers are at Bethune-Cookman (RPI: 107) Wednesday and then finish the season with conference series against Arkansas State (88), South Alabama (59) and FAU (30), all of which would make the SBC Tournament if the season ended today.
Educated guess: If FIU can manage to finish the regular season 7-3, the Panthers likely would end up third or fourth in the conference to end the season. That, and a run to the conference tournament finals, would likely get them in.
Of course, it would all be moot should they win it all.