The FIU baseball team played its lone exhibition game of the fall last night at the FIU ballpark against the Ontario Blue Jays. The Panthers won 11-0 and in the process showed what several of the 23 new players on the team as well as some of the returning players can do. Wednesday marked the final game for the Blue Jays in their schedule against college baseball teams. Ontario has traveled the U.S. the last two months playing teams such as Michigan, Ohio State, WKU, Virginia Tech, Troy, Florida State and Florida Gulf Coast before coming to FIU on Wednesday.
With both teams using wood bats, catcher Aramis Garcia, who batted fourth in the lineup last night, hit a couple of pitches on the screws. The sophomore drove one offering to the wall in left center for a loud out and scorched a line drive on another at-bat.
T.J. Shantz is just one of five seniors on the team this season. T.J. had a perfect hit-and-run opposite field single to set up the second FIU run. T.J. did what coach Turtle Thomas preaches to go opposite field with an outside pitch.
New third baseman Josh Anderson confirmed what Turtle said about him in my preseason talk with the FIU coach -- that Anderson is good with both the glove and the bat. Anderson roped a double down the left field line. In the field, Anderson made several nifty plays on ground balls to his left, on a slow roller coming in on the ball and on another, he picked a short-hop to get the out at first. Anderson also has an uncanny resemblance to FIU's all-time hits leader Mike Martinez. When you get out to an FIU ballgame this coming season watch how much Anderson's batting stance resembles Martinez's.
JUCO outfield transfer Zach Sweety knows what he is doing at the plate. One Ontario pitcher tried to bust the left-handed hitting Sweety with an inside fastball. Instead of getting tied up with the pitch, Sweety made a quick adjustment and used an inside-out swing to line a single to right center. Sweety went 4 for 4 in the game.
Nate Burns, the team's leading returning hitter at .317 last season, had a pair of hits. Burns lined an opposite field single on one at-bat. Burns also flawlessly played right field and center field.
Freshman infielder Andres Sanchez lined a two-run double down the left field line to help break the game open in the sixth. Sanchez also made a couple of plays at shortstop.
New junior right-hander Maleko Galusha, a Washington state native, started for FIU and threw two scoreless innings. Galusha, who throws from a 3/4 angle, had good life on his fastball and a knee-buckling curveball that to led three caught-looking strikeouts.
JUCO transfer right-hander Mitchell Davis, showed a good fastball in his two scoreless innings of work. Davis is expected to be a key late-inning cog in the FIU bullpen. Closer Mike Gomez pitched a scoreless frame with two strikeouts.
Freshman right-hander Dillon Maya displayed some good arm action and a lively fastball. Maya's delivery looked very polished in his scoreless inning of work. He reminded me a little of FIU's projected Friday night starter, Mike Ellis. I wouldn't be surprised to see Maya in the weekend rotation before the end of the coming season, if not sooner.