Once FIU clinched its spot in the Conference USA Baseball Tournament with a win Thursday at Tulane, the last two games of the season still mattered. The Former Sunblazers lost Friday and Saturday on walk-off plays, dropping them to a No. 8 seed and a fourth shot at No. 1 seed Rice, Wednesday at 1:30 Eastern at host Southern Mississippi.
That's the same Rice that swept FIU at Camp Mitch -- 3-2, 10-2, 11-7 -- the only team to do that to the Panthers this season.
The good news is A) the odds say it's hard to beat a good team four times and if you say it'll really only be twice because both teams should throw their aces then you can say B) FIU played Rice on even terms in Ace vs. Ace.
FIU's Mike Franco went 7 1/3, gave up two runs (one earned) on three hits, walked three and struck out seven. Rice's Zech Lemond went eight innings, gave up two runs (both earned) on eight hits, walked two and struck out five. FIU took a 2-0 lead after four innings, gave up the tying run in the eighth and lost 3-2 in 13 innings.
If FIU loses, they'll go to the loser's bracket and play the loser of Old Dominion vs. Middle Tennessee State at 10 a.m. Thursday. A win and they'll play the Old D-Middle winner at 7 p.m. Thursday.