CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Visiting FIU continued their strong weekend by finishing off a Conference USA sweep over Charlotte with an 8-0 shutout victory on Sunday afternoon. The Panthers hit .360 as a team in the weekend sweep scoring 25 runs on 41 hits. Not to be outdone, FIU’s pitching staff managed a 0.67 earned run average keeping the Charlotte offense quiet.
FIU (15-1, 3-0 C-USA) used small ball in the top of the second to take an early 1-0 lead. Josh Anderson walked on four pitches to start and moved to second on Edwin Rios’ single to right. After a sacrifice bunt by J.C. Escarra moved both runners up 90 feet, Roche Woodard followed with a groundout to short that scored Anderson for the one-run advantage.
The Panthers tacked on two more in the fourth extending their lead out to three. Anderson started with a single to left and appeared to be stranded at first after a pair of fly ball outs by Rios and Escarra. Woodard would keep the inning alive on his single back up the middle for Brandon Gomez to come up with a ground rule double to left scoring Anderson for a 2-0 lead. The ground rule double saved Woodard from scoring temporarily until a wild pitch by Charlotte starter Brock Hudgens (0-1) brought home Woodard a few seconds later.
Charlotte’s (2-10-1, 0-3 C-USA) best opportunity to get on the board came in the fourth as Brett Lang laced a double into the left-center gap with Mikal Hill on first. Hill, attempting to score on the play, was the victim of a perfect relay from Woodard in left and Julius Gaines at short to keep the score 3-0 through four.
Another two-out run came across for FIU in the seventh as an infield single to second by Woodard paid off later in the frame as Hibbert singled through the right side for a 4-0 contest.
In the eighth, the Panthers took advantage of the Niners second error of the day to push the advantage to five. With first and second, one out, a groundball to first saw Corbin Shive tag Rios out on his way to second. On Shive’s attempt to retire Escarra at first for an inning-ending double play, the throw went wide of the first base bag allowing Anderson to score the unearned run.
For good measure in the ninth, Aramis Garcia belted his third home run of the season sending a three-run shot to left for an 8-0 lead.
FIU added 12 more hits to their weekend total as Hibbert, Anderson, Rios and Woodard each had two for the Panthers. Lang had two of Charlotte’s three hits in the loss. Robby Kalaf (2-0) allowed two of the Niners hits over his seven innings of work issuing four walks while striking out eight.
“The reality is we’re just not ready right now to play against an older, physical top-25 team,” remarked Head Coach Loren Hibbs. “We’re just not at the point yet. It doesn’t mean we can’t get there. We have to keep working and trying to get better every day.”
Charlotte continues the homestand on Tuesday and Wednesday hosting VCU and Liberty in non-conference action. Both game times are set for 4:00 p.m. Live stats/video will be available for both matchups through http://www.charlotte49ers.com. Fans can also follow live, in-game feeds on Twitter following @Charlotte49ers and @49erGameDay. Tickets for the mid-week action are available by calling the Niners ticket office at 704-687-4949.