Jonesboro (ASU) – The Florida International Golden Panthers (27-19, 13-10) used a four-run first inning and a seven-spot in the third to jump out to an 11-0 lead and went on to defeat the Red Wolves (25-21, 13-10) of Arkansas State 15-2 Saturday afternoon at Tomlinson Stadium and Kell Field.
FIU designated hitter Mike Martinez unloaded three home runs on the day, including a grand slam in the first inning that gave the Panthers an early four-run cushion. Martinez finished the day going 3-for-5 with seven RBIs, helping FIU tie the Sun Belt Conference weekend series at 1-1. Arkansas State opened the series with an 8-7, 10-inning victory Friday night.
Martinez jump-started the third inning for the Panthers with a two-run home run, and the Red Wolves trailed 11-0 before a solo home run from first baseman Murray Watts put ASU on the board in the fourth.
"Obviously with a big inning in the first and another in the seventh for them, it was hard for our offense to get settled in," said ASU head coach Tommy Raffo. "I give credit to their pitcher, Scott Rembisz, who did a good job of throwing strikes. You have to be able to keep battling through and put together quality at-bats, and we just didn't do that today."
A solo home run from Martinez gave FIU a 12-1 advantage in the sixth, and A-State right fielder Todd Baumgartner drove in a run in the seventh to make it 12-2. FIU scored once in the eighth and twice in the ninth to set the final at 15-2.
Junior Andres Caceres (1-4) took the loss on the mound for ASU, lasting 2 and two-thirds innings. Caceres gave up nine runs on seven hits with no walks and no strikeouts. Scott Rembisz (6-4) worked seven innings to pick up the win for FIU. Rembisz gave up two runs on six hits, while walking five and striking out three.
Watts went 2-for-3 with an RBI to lead ASU at the plate, while left fielder Jabari Henry and shortstop Garrett Wittels went 3-for-5 along with Martinez to pace Florida International.
"We've got a series day tomorrow with game three," added Raffo. "Today was a loss, but tomorrow is a new day and we will go back and prepare for that."
The two teams will decide the series Sunday at noon.