#25 Florida International Tops Siena 8-2 in Baseball Opener
Feb. 14, 2003
Miami--The Siena baseball team (0-1) started their season Friday night against nationally ranked Florida International (8-1) in mid-season form, but did ultimately displayed the rust one might expect from a team playing its first game of the season. The Saints struck first, but Derek Decarlo settled in and out-dueled Siena's Jeremy Cabot, pitching seven strong innings en route to the first victory of the season for the FIU ace.
Kevin Roberts drew a five-pitch walk in the Saints first at bat of the season and promptly advanced to second on a wild pitch. Freshman Billy Lazio then rifled a 1-2 offering down the right field line scoring Roberts and giving the Saints an early 1-0 advantage just two batters into the game. Lazio was caught stealing and Decarlo retired the next two Saints in order to work out of trouble.
The Golden Panthers evened the score in the bottom half of the frame scoring a two-out unearned run. Dennis Diaz led off with a single to right field off Cabot and would later steal second and third. Cabot buckled down and struck out the next two batters he faced with wicked off-speed offerings. He appeared on the verge of stranding Diaz 90-feet from home plate as Ricardo Nanita grounded a 1-0 pitch to second base for what would have been the third out of the inning. However, Kevin Roberts' throw to first pulled Lazio off the bag, scoring the tying run. Cabot remained composed completing his strikeout of the side with a three-pitch fanning of FIU's James Bacon. The leadoff single would turnout to be the only hit allowed by Cabot in his first three innings of work.
The second and third innings were dominated by Cabot and Decarlo. Matt Mueller's second inning single down the left field line for Siena was the only hit over the stretch for either team. Mueller was cut down at second trying to extend his safety to a double.
FIU finally began to figure Cabot out in the fourth inning. Adam Summerell began the frame with a momentous homerun to left centerfield giving the Panthers their first lead of the evening. After a spectacular diving stop by Roberts retired the second batter of the inning, the next four players reached base. Bacon singled and advanced to third on a failed pickoff attempt. He scored on a bloop single to center by Luis Riviera, who collected one of FIU's six stolen bases during the ensuing at bat. The Panthers loaded the bases following a hit batter and a one-out walk, but Cabot again appeared on the verge of survival.
Mario Monreal grounded sharply to short in what could have been an inning ending double play. Blake Hanan fielded the ball cleanly and began the sequence with a perfect throw to second, Roberts throw, however, again sailed wide of first partially induced by a hard charging Mario Lopez as he attempted his pivot. Two runs scored on the play, giving the Panthers a 5-1 lead and chasing Cabot (who was on a 70-pitch count) from the game.
FIU added two more runs in their next at bat, the first scoring on a passed ball and the second on a Riviera sacrifice fly. The two spot would be the only damage allowed by reliever Dale Szachewicz in his two-plus innings of work.
Meanwhile, the Siena offense failed to take advantage of several opportunities. The Saints got their first two runners on in the fifth inning, but Hanan was unable to get down the sacrifice bunt. He eventually fouled out top the catcher as did freshman Matt Gidaly who followed him in the order, and Decarlo got Brian Schmotzer-one of four freshman in Rossi's lineup-to strikeout to end the threat.
Siena did add a run in the sixth as Roberts again came around to score on a Shawn Hampton double to left field. The Golden Panthers closed out the scoring with a single run off Siena reliever Josh Courage in the eighth inning.
"Overall, I was pleased with the effort." Siena Head Coach Tony Rossi said following the game. "I thought our bats hung in there, and our pitching got the job done most of the night. The three errors hurt us, but that is to be expected the first night."
The two teams will play the second game of the three-game weekend set at 1 p.m. tomorrow. Junior College transfer Ryan Bitter is expected to get the start for Siena.