A four-run eighth inning turned a 5-4 disadvantage into A Grambling State advantage, earning an 8-7 victory over the Florida International University in Miami, Florida. Three Grambling players, Chris Campbell, D’Quan Matthews, and Ace Felder, led the Tigers with two hits.
Florida International took a 1-0 lead in the first inning and tacked on two more runs in the third inning. Grambling starting pitcher Anthony Hernandez walked two FIU batters Kobe Lopez and Austin Shenton before DiAndre Amion double passed Tigers right fielder Isaiah Torres for a 3-0 Panther lead.
Leading off in the bottom of the third inning, the Panthers’ Lorenzo Hampton belted a homerun over the left field wall to make it a 4-0 ballgame.
Grambling’s first runs of the game came as Cameron Shannon singled to right field before Chris Perez blasted a homerun over the left field wall, cutting the FIU 4-2 deficit in half.
Grambling would get two more runs in the top of the six inning. Trevin Bolden blooped a single to left field and Ace Fielder tripled, plating Bolden. Cameron Shannon’s sacrifice fly tied the game at 4-4.
In the top of the eighth inning, Grambling bats came alive. Richard Ortiz flied out to left field. Torres doubled. Phil Adams Jr. pinch ran for Torres. Bolden walked. Adams Jr. and Bolden moved up to second and third on a balk call on Panther pitcher Chandler Raiden. The Tigers then scored a run on a fielder’s choice. Shannon was intentionally walked to load the bases. Perez reached on a fielder’s choice, Shannon advanced to second, Felder advanced to third, Bolden out at home on a fielder’s choice, 3b to catcher. Campbell singled scoring Felder. Matthews singled home both Perez and Shannon for a 8-5 lead. Ortiz, who lead off at the top of the inning batted around, made the innings final out.
In the bottom of the eighth inning FIU came storming back with back to back singles from Logan Allen and Derek Cartaya, putting runners on first and second with no outs. Jose Garcia double to right field scoring Cartaya, Allen to third. The next batted ball hit Grambling relief pitcher Daniel Beizer in the leg, but he was able to recover for a 1-3 putout. The next batter was hit by a Beizer pitch and loaded the bases. A sacrifice fly to center field plated another run, cutting the Grambling lead to 8-7. Christian Khawam then hit an inning ending fly out.
There was drama in the bottom of the ninth inning. Hampton struck out swinging, Jose Teixeira, pinch hitting for Fernandez, popped up to short for the second out. Cartaya singled, stole second. Allen walked. Beizer induced Michael Harkcom into a struck out, swinging on a 2-2 count to end the game.
Anthony Hernandez went 5.0 innings recorded four strike outs. Christian Marquez pitched the Tigers one inning of relief to earn the win. Daniel Beizer recorded the save. The team improved to 4-3 overall and will return to action Sunday, February 25th, against Florida International, looking to win the series.
Game Note: Beizer received treatment after saving the tying and potential go ahead run for FIU after being hit in the leg by a line drive. He is day to day. FIU head coach Mervyl Melendez who turned two HBCUs Bethune Cookmen University and Alabama State University schools into top notch baseball programs is building FIU into his third collegiate powerhouse.