MIAMI - Clutch hitting from Taylor Abdalla and a textbook play in the field powered the ULM baseball team to a 3-2 win over FIU in 10 innings Saturday night at the FIU Baseball Stadium.
Abdalla crushed a solo home run over the left field fence off John Costa (1-1) in the top of the 10th, vaulting the Warhawks (14-13, 2-6 SBC) in front 3-2. The Golden Panthers (13-13, 3-5 SBC) threatened in the bottom half of the inning with two on and two out. Oscar Aguirre lined a Wil Browning (4-1) pitch into left field, but Les Aulds gunned down pinch runner Roche Woodard at the plate trying to score to end the ballgame.
Browning found himself in a jam in the bottom of the ninth inning after hitting T.J. Shantz with one out. Shantz attempted to steal on a second strike pitch to Pablo Bermudez, but catcher Logan Fiasco gunned him down at second base. Browning then came back and got Bermudez out in front to go to extra innings.
FIU tied the ballgame in the bottom of the eighth inning, thanks to a two-run single to center field by Aramis Garcia after Browning entered the game. Browning made a nice stab on a hard hit ball from Julius Gaines and started the 1-6-3 double play to end the frame tied at 2-all.
Browning struck out three batters in his three innings of work to earn his fourth win of the season. The senior right-hander walked one and struck out three on 49 pitches.
The Warhawks scored the game's first run in the top half of the opening inning, as Joey Rapp drove a full-count pitch from FIU starter Michael Ellis into right field, scoring Aulds from second to give ULM the early 1-0 lead. Ellis retired Abdalla swinging to strand Rapp at first and get the Golden Panthers out of the frame down by one run.
ULM loaded the bases against Ellis in the top of the second inning. Justin Stawychny reached on a sacrifice bunt to the left side of the infield and then advanced to second on an errant throw by Ellis. Corben Green was hit in the knee by a pitch and Fiasco drew a 3-2 walk with one out. Aulds struck out looking on a breaking pitch, and Caleb Clowers grounded out to the shortstop Gaines to strand all three runners.
Randy Zeigler sat the Golden Panthers down in order in the bottom half of the second, highlighted by a diving catch in shallow center field by the second baseman Clowers to rob Adam Kirsch of a hit. Zeigler punched out Garcia to complete the three-up, three-down inning.
Jeremy Sy roped a triple over the head of FIU's Bermudez in center field to open the top of the third inning, and then scored on a base knock into left field from Judd Edwards that extended the Warhawk advantage to 2-0.
Sy, Rapp and Aulds all finished with two hits apiece, with Rapp and Edwards adding RBIs. Zeigler was solid in his seven innings on the mound, allowing four hits and striking out four.
FIU's Garcia roped a leadoff double into left field off Zeigler in the bottom of the fifth inning to get the Golden Panthers offense in motion. After Zeigler retired the next two batters in order, Nathan Burns drew a five-pitch walk. Fiasco made a tremendous play to chase down a popup in foul territory off the bat of Shantz to strand both runners on base.
Zeigler found himself in trouble in the bottom of the sixth inning, as Bermudez and Jabari Henry each walked. The ULM left-hander rose to the occasion, freezing Garcia looking on a 1-2 offering to keep the Warhawks on top 2-0.
Kirsch and Garcia rapped a pair of hits for FIU. Ellis struck out 12 hitters in a no decision.
The rubber match between the teams is set for a 10 a.m. first pitch Sunday.