MIAMI, Fla. — Senior Jeff Keller highlighted a four-run ninth by clearing the bases with his second double of the day, but Dartmouth could not overcome the early firepower of 30th-ranked FIU in the rubber game of a three-game series, falling 11-7. Roche Woodward led the 14-hit attack for the Golden Panthers (11-1) with a pair of knocks and four RBIs, while Aramis Garcia added a two-run homer. Keller went 3-for-5 with two runs and three RBIs on the day for Dartmouth (1-2).
For the second straight day, the Big Green took a lead in the top of the first inning. Keller ripped a one-out double into the left-field corner, took third on passed ball and came home when sophomore Joe Purritano’s grounder to first was booted for an error. Purritano was gunned down trying to take third on a single to left by junior Nick Lombardi, who took second on the throw and scampered home on junior Thomas Roulis’ single to center for a 2-0 lead.
The tables quickly turned on Dartmouth, however, as the Golden Panthers scored a run in the bottom half, two more in the second to take the lead, then six more in the third to blow open the game. The Green did catch a break in the first when Garcia drove in a run with one out with what looked to be a double. But after an appeal at first, he was called out for missing first base, though the run still counted.
Woodard produced the first of his four RBIs on the day with a bases-loaded single in the second to knot the score at two before Tyler Hibbert chopped a grounder to first to plate the go-ahead run.
The third inning began ominously as twice it appeared sophomore hurler Duncan Robinson had Garcia struck out, only to have the appeal on check swings go for naught. Garcia eventually drew a leadoff walk, and the inning went downhill from there. After a Josh Anderson single, Edwin Rios ripped an RBI double and Zach Sweety followed with a run-scoring single back through the box. A one-out walk loaded the bases and ended sophomore starter Duncan Robinson’s day on the mound.
Woodard promptly greeted senior reliever Mike Dodakian by drilling his first pitch for a three-run triple, and Hibbert brought him home on the next pitch with a single, making it a 9-2 game after three innings.
FIU starter Robby Kalaf settled in after his rocky first, holding the Big Green scoreless for the next four frames before being lifted to start the sixth by Ty Sullivan. Dartmouth loaded the bases on a Keller single and walks to Lombardi and sophomore Nick Ruppert before Sullivan uncorked a wild pitch. The Golden Panthers then summoned Charles Cormier from the pen, who got a comebacker for the third out.
Garcia produced a pair of insurance runs with two outs in the eighth when he launched his second home run over the left-field fence, scoring Julius Gaines who had reached on an infield single.
In the ninth, the Golden Panthers brought in closer Mike Garcia to get some work, but he surrendered one-out singles to pinch hitters Ryan Toimil and Michael Ketchmark, then walked another pinch hitter, John Melody, to fill the bases. Garcia got the second out on strikes, but walked junior Matt Parisi on four pitches to force in a run. After getting ahead of Keller with two quick strikes, Keller yanked the next offering inside the left-field foul line for a three-run double to bring Dartmouth within four. But when pinch hitter Jay Graham lined a shot to right, Woodard made a diving catch to end the game.
Kalaf (1-0) earned his first victory of the year, allowing two runs, one earned, on four hits and a walk over five innings of work.
Robinson (0-1) suffered the loss in his first collegiate start, giving up eight runs in 2.1 innings. Freshman Michael Concato got his first collegiate work on the mound with four innings of relief and yielded two runs on four hits with three strikeouts.
Both Sweety and Anderson led FIU with three hits, and Aramis Garcia reached base four times with his homer, a single and two walks.
Dartmouth will take a break for finals before returning to action on March 14 when it travels to 12th-ranked TCU for a three-game series. Next up for FIU is its first road games of the year at Bethune-Cookman on Tuesday at 5 p.m.