NORTH MIAMI, Fla. (Feb. 6, 2024) – Florida National University’s baseball team (1-1), showed sparks of brilliance in a split doubleheader to open the 2024 season. FNU hosted Ohio Christian University (1-5) on Feb. 6 at Claude Pepper Park in North Miami, Fla., ending the afternoon with a 16-2 win in game one and a close 6-5 loss in game two. Ohio Christian captured its first win after starting the year 0-4 after tough losses to FNU rival the University of Fort Lauderdale.
In game one, FNU took advantage of some OCU pitching woes, getting on the board in the first inning off a wild pitch that scored leadoff hitter Jordan Lewis. Before the end of the frame, Roberto Fernandez’s single allowed Gino Bellantoni to make it a 2-0 FNU lead before heading into the second.
OCU took advantage of some FNU mistakes, tying the game on an error in right field and a passed ball. A sacrifice fly from Bellantoni put FNU back on top at the end of the third, which ran in Daniel Reyes. FNU broke the game open in the third, forcing four OCU errors and scoring seven runs. The Conquistadors continued to pour it on in the fifth with a three-RBI homer courtesy of Matthew Gonzalez. FNU scored three more runs to end the game with eight hits to OCU’s one.
In game two, OCU finessed some of their fielding mishaps from game one, limiting their errors and keeping FNU from extending their time on offense. The Conquistadors got on the board in the first thanks to a score from Lewis, but ended the game with six players left on base. After three scoreless innings, Lewis continued to work his magic with a two-RBI double, pushing Reyes and Erick Rodriguez home.
OCU went on to cut FNU’s lead to one after a two-RBI single, applying more pressure on FNU to get more separation from their opponent. Florida National was held scoreless in the fifth and gave up a massive three runs in the sixth thanks to a couple of fielding errors and a triple from OCU’s Caleb Haller. In the seventh, OCU added their sixth run before a line out to the top of the seventh afforded FNU one more opportunity to take back control in the bottom of the frame.
FNU was knocking on the door of a victory with a single from Bellantoni that scored Lewis. Gonzalez put up a stunning double that allowed Silgado to make it a one-run game before Bellantoni was put out at home plate. A textbook flyout on Fernandez earned OCU its first win of 2024 and ended FNU’s hopes of a comeback.
Up Next: FNU heads to Jacksonville, Fla., for a four-game road series versus TBC starting Feb. 9.