LAKELAND, Fla. (April 5, 2023) – Florida National University’s baseball team fell short of the mark versus the reigning national champions Southeastern Fire. The NAIA’s unanimous No. 1 team was electric on its home field, improving to 26-1 in Lakeland, Fla., and 36-2 overall. FNU (11-13) came into this heavyweight battle fresh off a stellar 18-3 win over the Eagles of Fort Lauderdale, boasting five homers in the victory
The Fire got on the board in the first on an RBI homer to take a 1-0 lead. Alejandro De Arozoza got the first hit for the Conquistadors but was quickly put out at second after an impressive throw from the Fire’s centerfield man to his shortstop.
FNU retired the side after three quick outs and the Fire followed up its early game heroics with a two-RBI homer to left field. SEU recorded three more runs to cap off a five-run, four-hit second inning.
The Conquistadors trailed 6-0 in the fourth before designated hitter Roberto Fernandez lived up to his position, launching a three-RBI homer toward centerfield scoring Gino Bellantoni and Matthew Gonzalez.
But SEU went to work at the bottom of the frame, taking an 8-3 lead on a two-RBI double to left field. Two walks and a hit by pitch left the bases loaded, as David Castillo delivered a grand slam for a commanding nine-run Fire advantage. A single and a sac fly delivered two more Fire runs. SEU retired the side with eight runs and three hits.
Nick Diaz got a much-needed FNU hit at the top of the fifth with a single through the left side, but an unassisted putout at third base forced FNU to retire the side once again without a run on the board. Yordangel Gonzalez breathed some life into FNU’s offense with a homer to left field in the sixth to highlight a one-hit inning.
At the bottom of the frame, an intentional walk with the bases loaded scored Castillo once again and a two-RBI single to shortstop gave the Fire 17 runs on the evening and 15 walks. A quick three and out at the top of the seventh ended the contest. FNU had five hits and one error while the Fire had nine hits and no errors.
Up Next: Baseball looks to take down Sun Conference giant Florida Memorial April 12 at 2 p.m.