Late-Inning Magic Lifts Panthers past Toppers
Courtesy: FIUSports.com
          Release: 03/24/2012
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (March 23, 2012) - FIU junior Michael Gomez came in with the game tied at 5-5 in the eighth and pitched the Panthers out of a one-out bases loaded jam while junior Nathan Burns supplied the game-winning hit in the top of the ninth to secure a 6-5 victory over the WKU Hilltoppers Friday evening.

Burns, Adam Kirsch and Roche Woodard each had three-hit games while Mike Martinez drove in two with a 2 for 4 performance. Woodard also had a game-saving catch for the third out in the eighth.

Gomez picked up his first win as a Panther going 1.2 innings, giving up one hit while striking out a pair. FIU (9-11, 1-3 SBC) starter Mason McVay pitched five solid innings, giving up four runs (one earned) on three hits with six strikeouts before leaving the game after a rain delay.

The Panthers started out hot scoring two runs off the reigning Sun Belt Freshman of the Year, Justin Hageman, in the first inning. Pablo Bermudez jump-started the scoring with a sacrifice fly to left scoring Burns who led-off the game with a single. Martinez then drove in Tyler James Shantz on a double of the left field fence. Shantz reached base on a single and advanced to second on a throwing error by the third baseman.

After WKU (9-13, 1-3 SBC) picked up two in the bottom half of the first on three FIU errors, the Panthers regained the lead on a Burns RBI single scoring Julius Gaines. Shortly after Shantz was hit by a pitch, Bermudez drove in his second run of the game on a sac fly making the score 4-2 in favor of FIU. Bermudez drove in Woodard who reached on single earlier in the inning.

The Hilltoppers picked up two in the bottom half of the second to tie the game at 4-4 before the rain started to fall.  

After a lengthy rain delay, the Panthers came back to take the lead in the eighth when Martinez drove in Shantz from third to take a 5-4 lead. The Toppers responded when Ivan Hartle drew a bases loaded walk to knot the game back up at 5-5.

With two on and two outs in the ninth, Burns played the role of hero with the game-winning single scoring Kirsch who singled to lead off the stanza and win the game, 6-5.

These two teams will play game two of the series on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. ET. in Bowling Green, Ky.

Fans can follow the action all season long on Twitter (@FIUBaseball) and Facebook (facebook.com/FIUBaseball) as well as logging on to FIUSports.com's blog - The Prowl - for live play-by-play game blogs of select games. Live audio and video are available for all home games through Panther Pass.

Tickets are on sale for all FIU home games at the University Credit Union Box Office at the R. Kirk Landon Field House or by calling 305-FIU-Game or logging on to FIUSports.com.

About FIU Athletics: FIU Athletics is home to more than 400 student-athletes in 18 different sports, and is a proud member of the Sun Belt Conference and an affiliate member of Conference USA (men's soccer). Athletic events are played in seven different venues on FIU's campuses (Modesto A. Maidique and Biscayne Bay), including U.S. Century Bank Arena and Alfonso Field at FIU Stadium.

About FIU: Florida International University is recognized as a Carnegie engaged university. Its colleges and schools offer more than 180 bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs in fields such as engineering, international relations, architecture, law and medicine. As one of South Florida's anchor institutions, FIU is worlds ahead in its local and global engagement, finding solutions to the most challenging problems of our time. FIU emphasizes research as a major component of its mission and enrolls nearly 48,000 students in two campuses and three centers including FIU Downtown on Brickell and the Miami Beach Urban Studios. More than 140,000 alumni live and work in South Florida. FIU is a member of the Sun Belt Conference and has 400 student-athletes participating in 18 sports. For more information about FIU, visit http://www.fiu.edu/.

--- www.FIUSports.com ---
Roche Woodard
Roche Woodard

Courtesy: Sam Lewis/RIchard Lewis/Alex Hernandez/Roy Viera
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