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15 posts from May 2011

May 30, 2011

FIU heads to UNC as No. 2 seed, plays James Madison on Friday

FIU was selected as a No. 2 seed in the NCAA baseball tournament and will travel to the University of North Carolina to face James Madison on Friday at 1 p.m.

The Panthers are making their 10th appearance in the tournament and their first back-to-back showing since 2002.

“We are excited about being in a regional again,” FIU shortstop Garrett Wittels said. “Hopefully we can keep playing good baseball. In my mind we have been one of the hottest teams in college baseball.”

The Panthers, who lost in the Sun Belt Conference final 7-6 to UALR on Sunday, are ranked No. 20 in the Baseball America top 25 and have won 21 of their last 25 24 games, including a tie.

FIU (40-18-1) will use junior lefty Phil Haig against James Madison. Haig is 9-3 this season, with a 3.27 ERA, 69 strikeouts in 93.2 innings pitched.

On the other side of the bracket, host North Carolina (No. 1 seed in the region and No. 3 overall) plays Maine.


May 29, 2011

NCAA baseball sites announced

The NCAA Division I Baseball Committee announced the 16 host sites for the baseball championship. The Panthers will have to wait till tomorrow to find out where they will be heading during the selection show on ESPN at 12:30 p.m.

Atlanta - Georgia Tech (40-19)

Austin, Texas - Texas (43-15)

Fullerton, Calif. - Cal State Fullerton (39-15)

Chapel Hill, N.C. - North Carolina (45-14)

Clemson, South Carolina - Clemson (41-18)

Charlottesville, Virginia - Virginia (48-9)

College Station, Texas - Texas A&M (41-18)

Columbia, South Carolina - South Carolina (45-14)

Corvallis, Oregon - Oregon State (38-16)

Fort Worth, Texas - TCU (42-17)

Gainesville, Fla. - Florida (44-16)

Houston - Rice (41-39)

Los Angeles - UCLA (33-21)

Nashville, Tenn. - Vanderbilt (47-9)

Tallahassee, Fla. - Florida State (42-16)

Tempe, Arizona - Arizona State (38-16)


May 28, 2011

FIU to face UALR in SBC title game

The Panthers (39-17-1) advanced to the Sun Belt Conference championship game against UALR Sunday at 2 p.m. The game can be seen on CSS (channel 63 on Comcast). 

FIU made easy work of South Alabama on Friday, beating the Warhawks 11-0. Miami Herald special correspondent Tabby Soignier has the game report here.

FIU still has to face Louisiana tonight at 8 p.m. but regardless of the outcome FIU still plays in the title game.

May 25, 2011

Bermudez named conference co-player of the year

FIU outfielder Pablo Bermudez was name Sun Belt Conference Co-player of the Year Tuesday. Bermudez hit .380 in 208 at bats, with 32 RBI, 55 runs, 17 stolen bases, 16 doubles and a team-high 41 walks. Bermudez shares the award with Troy's Adam Bryant.

Bermudez and third baseman Jeremy Patton were named to the All-Sun Belt First Team. Pitcher Phil Haig and first baseman Mike Martinez were named to the second team.

News and notes

FIU sophomore Jabari Henry helped the East team defeat the West team at the Sun Belt's annual Family night home run derby. Henry hit 12 homers to lead the East 48-37. Video below


Video courtesy FIUsports.com

2011 Ron Maestri Coach of the Year

Bobby Pierce, Troy

2011 All-Sun Belt First Team

SP - Paul Davis, Florida Atlantic

SP - Tyler Ray, Troy

RP - Hugh Adams, Florida Atlantic

C - Matt Rice, WKU

1B - Joey Rapp, Louisiana-Monroe

2B - Raymond Church, Florida Atlantic

SS - Adam Bryant, Troy

3B - Tyler Hannah, Troy

3B - Jeremy Patton, FIU

OF - Todd Baumgartner, Arkansas State

OF - Pablo Bermudez, FIU

OF - Kes Carter, WKU

DH - Nick Rountree, UALR

UTIL - Tyson Workman, Troy

2011 All-Sun Belt Second Team

SP - Phil Haig, FIU

SP - Tanner Perkins, WKU

RP - Nate Hill, Troy

C - Brent Tanner, South Alabama

1B - Mike Martinez, FIU

2B - T.J. Rivera, Troy

SS - Nick DelGuidice, Florida Atlantic

3B - Hank LaRue, Middle Tennessee

OF - Jared Andreoli, WKU

OF - Alex Hudak, Florida Atlantic

OF - Will Skinner, Middle Tennessee

DH - Lance Marvel, Louisiana-Lafayette

UTIL - Brad Hook - South Alabama

2011 Co-Players of the Year

Pablo Bermudez, FIU

Adam Bryant, Troy

2011 Pitcher of the Year

Tyler Ray, Troy

2011 Freshman of the Year

Justin Hageman, WKU

2011 Ron Maestri Coach of the Year

Bobby Pierce, Troy


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May 24, 2011

FIU earns high marks in academic report

FIU earned some of it's highest scores ever in the seventh-annual Academic Progress Rate announced by the NCAA on Tuesday.

Of FIU's 17 teams, 16 squads received scores above the required four-year score of 925. The men's basketball team raised its score from 886 in 2008-09 to 910 this year, it's highest four-year score ever. Even though the men's basketball team was below the required NCAA bench-mark of 925, the Panthers will not be penalized because they have shown consistent improvement.

The football team received it's highest four-year APR score with a 936. The Panthers, who improved 30 points from last year, have steadily improved under coach Mario Cristobal.

“Over the past four years, the FIU Athletic Department has demonstrated a proactive approach towards improving our APR scores,” FIU athletic director Pete Garcia said, in a statement. “We are starting to see the results of all of the hard work put in by our student-athletes, coaches and academic support staff. Our focus has been the commitment towards the academic support of our student-athletes. We have worked very hard to raise the bar, not only on the field, but more importantly in the classroom and this year’s scores are evidence to that.”

The APR allows universities to understand each team's academic achievements by tracking athletes on scholarship each semester. APR takes into account eligibility, performance in the classroom, retention and graduation. The APRs are four-year averages based on scores from 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10 academic years. School can be awarded up to a 1,000 points. Each sports program is rated individually and schools do not receive an over score on performance.

The Golden Panthers' women's tennis team scored a 1,000 - the only program in the school to receive a perfect score. Softball had a 2009-10 score of a 1,000 but a four-year average score of 978. Five of FIU's women's teams (including softball and tennis) received 2009-10 academic scores of 1,000. On the men's side, baseball had the highest score with a 954.

FIU Academic Progress Rate Report – 2009-10

Men’s Sports – 2009-10 Rate (Multi-year Rate)

Baseball – 990 (954)

Basketball – 900 (910)

Cross Country – 917 (935)

Football – 927 (936)

Men’s Soccer – 946 (940)

Indoor Track & Field – 964 (935)

Outdoor Track & Field – 964 (935)

 Women’s Sports – 2009-10 Rate (Multi-year Rate)

Basketball – 967 (957)

Cross Country – 1000 (958)

Golf – 926 (964)

Softball – 1000 (978)

Soccer – 924 (951)

Swimming & Diving – 1000 (960)

Tennis – 1000 (1000)

Indoor Track & Field – 1000 (963)

Outdoor Track & Field – 1000 (963)

Volleyball – 980 (968)


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May 23, 2011

News and notes | FIU baseball

The Golden Panthers (37-17-1, 20-9-1 SBC) moved up to No. 22 in the Baseball America Top 25 Poll. The Panthers jumped two spots from No. 24.

USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll: FIU received nine votes but is not ranked.

NCAA RPI: FIU is ranked 32 up from 34.

NCBWA (National College Baseball Writers Association: FIU received votes but are not ranked.

Conference Tournament

The Panthers, fresh-off a series win versus rival FAU, take on Arkansas State on Wednesday in the first-round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in Louisiana. The Panthers, who have won 18 out of their last 20 games, tied 8-8 with Arkansas State the last time the two teams meet earlier this month.


 I posted a few tweets below from FIU players and the SBC:

@The_Sun_Belt Sun Belt Conference
Not too late to get tickets for 2011 Sun Belt Conference Baseball Championship hosted by @ULMWarhawks. Games begin Wed! http://bit.ly/iQuX3o
@FIUAthletics FIU Athletics
FIU Earns No. 2 Seed in Conference Tournament: FIU will face No. 7 seed Arkansas St. at 3 p.m. CT on Wednesday. http://bit.ly/mM0EN8
@pboogie012 Pablo Bermudez
by FIUAthletics
Tourney time flying out of miami now....moving up # 22 in the latest rankings
@TurtleThomasFIU Turtle Thomas
Off to Monroe. Ready for some peach cobbler.
@PlayPatt_22 Jeremy Patton
About to pass out on this plane. On our way to #funroe

May 19, 2011

KeDorian Sullivan becomes third recruit to sign with FIU

If all goes to plan, FIU basketball essentially wrapped up its 2011 recruiting effort this week when Memphis-based KeDorian Sullivan signed a letter of intent with the Golden Panthers.

Sullivan, a 6-foot-6, 185-pound swingman from Southwind (Tenn.) High School, becomes the third high school player to ink with FIU.

Darnell Harris, a small forward from Christian Life Center Academy (Texas), is expected to snap up the Panthers’ fourth and final scholarship should he qualify academically.

In the heavily-publicized world of college recruiting, Sullivan is a relative unknown.

Last summer, SlamOnline.com wrote of Sullivan: “[He] might not be a big name nationally, but his high motor, slashing ability, finishing skills, activity on the boards, tough D and ability to excel in transition might change his low-key status as a recruit in the near future.”


Starters: FAU's Ryan Garton (5-3, 4.33) vs. FIU's Phil Haig (8-3, 3.50).

First pitch is 7 p.m.


May 18, 2011

Update | Northwestern QB Elgin Hilliard picks FIU


Elgin Hilliard confirmed to me Wednesday night that he is "100 percent certain" and is excited about coming to FIU in the future.

"It's a local school. A lot of ours players from Northwestern went there," he said. "I want to stay as close to home as possible."


According to ESPN's Corey Long, Northwestern junior quarterback Elgin Hilliard committed to FIU on Wednesday.

"I committed to FIU today," Hilliard told ESPN. "It's close to home and I think it's the right situation for me to go in and compete."

Hilliard will take the helm for the Bulls next season replacing Teddy Bridgewater. Hilliard does not have a ton of experience at QB, backing up Bridgewater for the last two years. Hilliard is listed at 6-3, 180 pounds.


May 14, 2011

Arkansas State-FIU Game 2 LIVE BLOG

FIU vies for its 15th-straight win against the Red Wolves, whom the Panthers defeated 3-2 in Game 1 Friday.

On the mound -- ASU: Brad Allen (2-4, 5.58) vs. FIU: R.J. Fondon (4-4, 3.11).

First pitch is 6 p.m.


May 10, 2011

Bermudez named SBC player of the week

FIU outfielder Pablo Bermudez was named Sun Belt Conference Player of the week on Monday. Bermudez batted .526, with six runs, six RBI and two home runs in the Panthers' three-game sweep of MTSU this past weekend.

The Panthers, riding atop a 12 game-winning streak, next face Stetson Wednesday on the road.


May 08, 2011

FIU sweeps MTSU, wins 12th straight

The FIU baseball team completed a three-game sweep of Middle Tennessee State University on Sunday. The Panthers beat MTSU 9-5 to win their 12th consecutive contest. Right fielder Yoandy Barroso led the FIU offense going 2 for 4 with four RBI. Designated hitter Rudy Flores was 2 for 4 with three RBI. Starting pitcher Kyle Fitzpatrick pitched 4.2 innings giving up six hits and four runs. Mason McVay (1-1) recorded the win.

FIU has seven games remaining before the Sun Belt Conference tournament in late May. The Panthers next take on Stetson on the road on Tuesday.

Justin Azpiazu

Follow me on Twitter @JustinAzpiazu

May 03, 2011

FIU-FGCU baseball

Riding atop an eight-game winning streak, FIU takes on Florida Gulf Coast University at home tonight. Not really doing a traditional live blog but I was planning on giving some updates and any developments.

Live blog

FIU leads it 5-0 in the top of the third inning. FIU starter Logan Dodds has pitched well, giving up only two hits through three full innings.

The Panthers (28-16) took a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning after T.J. Shantz hit a two-out grand slam.

Eagles get three runs in the top of the fourth. FGCU's Zach Maxfield hit a towering shot to left field for the Eagles' first run of the game. With the bases loaded, the Eagles scored two more runs after an error on the FIU defense.

 Fourth inning

Yoandy Barroso hits homer to left field.

Panthers have scored three runs this inning and still have not recorded an out.

Panthers eventually scored eight runs in the fourth inning. Game is 14-4 FIU.


It's official: De La Rosa formally a Golden Panther

As we first reported, Joey De La Rosa signed his letter of intent last week to join Isiah Thomas' FIU squad this fall.

Now, we get word that his LOI has been processed and approved, meaning his formally a Golden Panther.

The Panthers have at least two more scholarship spots to fill during the NCAA's spring signing period, which runs until May 18.

May 02, 2011

Mario Cristobal on Sun Belt Conference Call

FIU's spring game was weeks ago, and training camp is still another three months off. Perfect time to talk football, right?

The Sun Belt thought so, organizing a conference call with the league's nine coaches for reporters Monday morning. Mario Cristobal held court, and while there really was no news broken, here's a taste of what he had to say ...

On what the team accomplished during spring practice: “We identified a couple of areas where we needed to improve drastically in. We learned we can be a lot more physical, and a lot more athletic. We certainly feel like we’ve enhanced our secondary, and enhanced our quarterback corps. We came out relatively injury-free. We have a fair amount of upperclassmen coming back. There’s a lot of excitement based on achievements of last season.

If there were position battles to watch: “There’s spots all over. It’s hard to pick out one or two that are the focal points of everything. We worked on third downs, red zone efficiency. You’re putting guys in high-pressure situations with a lot of live action out there. A lot of tackling. Made the most of what we were allowed by the NCAA. Most of these battles will be solved during two-a-days. We feel like we do have more depth than in the past.”

On how the program will sustain its success from 2010: “We kind of think it not being a one-hit wonder. That was a four-year process that culminated in something very positive. We think we’ll continue to add layers to that, with the right type of character kids. Obviously, Troy has done a phenomenal job of setting the bar high, I think what everybody is starting to recognize is the Sun Belt conference is a good conference, and is gaining momentum. Look at respective recruiting backyards, you’ll see teams continually improving, and we’ll start to make a run at these BCS opponents, year in and year out. It’s going to be up in the air. Everybody has a chance of it.”

If he felt some of the Sun Belt players were overlooked in the NFL Draft: “They might have been, but it’s just like recruiting. It’s not how you go in, but how you come out. Plus, you see some of the rising seniors this year, you’ll see that number [of drafed players] increase significantly over the next couple of years. I think it was a positive day, and I would note that the Sun Belt had more guys drafted than the MAC.”

On Anthony Gaitor going to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: “Obviously, he’s a great football player. For four years, he’s been an impact guy. He makes coaching a whole bunch of fun.”

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