Rios belts pair of two-run homers to power FIU past UARL 4-3 in Sun Belt
LAFAYETTE, La. -- Freshman Edwin Rios accounted for all four runs with a pair of two-run homers as FIU defeated UALR 4-3 in the Sun Belt Conference tournament on Thursday.
With the game knotted at 2 in the sixth, Rios hit the second of his two home runs to break the tie. FIU took a 4-3 lead into the top of the ninth. Junior Zach Sweety helped hose two runners, one at third and the potential tying run at home, to help junior Mitchell Davis earn his fourth save of the season.
Tyler Alexander made the start for FIU and punched out 10 batters while giving up two runs over 5.2 innings. Jason Morozowski, Chris Elander and Davis combined with effective relief pitching. Morozowski was credited with the win.
The Panthers struck first when Sweety reached first on an infield hit in the first inning. Then with two outs, Rios hit the first of his two home runs, this one over the right-field wall, to give the Panthers an early 2-0 lead.
Alexander, who had four strikeouts through the first three innings, surrendered his first run of the game in the fourth inning to the Trojans. UALR loaded the bases and a groundout to second scored a run to cut the FIU lead in half.
Following a 1-2-3 fifth for UALR, the Trojans managed to tie it in the sixth. The bases became loaded with one out, all via the walk. Following a 10th strikeout for Alexander, he walked in a run, which knotted the game at 2. Alexander was relieved by Morozowski.
Rios answered for the Panthers in the bottom half of the inning. Aramis Garcia led off with a walk to set up the go-ahead hit for Rios. He went the opposite direction this time, with a two-run homer over the left-field wall to give FIU a 4-2 lead.
The Trojans got another run in the seventh, as Blake Johnson went deep to make it 4-3.
In the ninth, Davis hit Johnson with a pitch to lead off the inning. Then, John Clark singled to left-center field. Johnson attempted to advance to third, but Sweety hit Rios, who tagged Johnson at third to force the first out of the inning. Clark advanced to second on the play.
Chris Burk then singled to Sweety out in left. Pinch-runner Sage Gasaway attempted to go home from second, but Sweety hit Garcia on one bounce and Gasaway was out by three steps. A fly out to left ended the game.