Eagles Stumble with FIU, 8-6
FORT MYERS, Fla. – In a contest that saw four lead changes, the FGCU baseball team fell to FIU on Tuesday evening at Swanson Stadium, 8-6. The Golden Panthers posted two runs in the top of the ninth which proved to be too much for the Eagles.
With the loss, FGCU moved to 10-5 overall (3-0 Atlantic Sun) while FIU improved to 10-6 on the year.
Given the game ball to start off the evening, junior Patrick Nathanson (Maitland, Fla.) went five innings and allowed three runs (three earned) on four hits and two strikeouts in a no-decision outing. Junior Jack Wagoner (Berlin, Conn.) closed out the final two innings of the night, giving up three runs (two earned) on four hits and two strikeouts in the loss.
FIU’s R.J Fondon went six and one-third innings, allowing five runs (five earned) on six hits and registered seven strikeouts with one walk in a no-decision. Andre Vazquez earned the win after throwing one and two-thirds innings and allowing one run (one earned) with a lone strikeout.
The Eagles changed the scoreboard for the first time in the home half of the third, following back-to-back singles by designated hitter Bobby Greene (Cape Coral, Fla.) and shortstop Stephen Wickens (Whitby, Ontario). Junior second baseman Mikel Alvarez (West Palm Beach, Fla.)brought the first run of the game home on a sharply hit ground ball down the left field line that scored Greene from second base (1-0).
FIU responded with three runs of their own, in the top of the third frame. Three walks had the bases loaded before a fly ball into the right center field gap brought two runs home, as it landed just out the reach of right fielder Josh Chester’s (Weston, Fla.) diving effort (2-1). The Golden Panthers added another score to their total on a ground out to first base that plated a runner from third base (3-1).
In the seventh inning, the visitors extended the lead to a four-run advantage. With runners on the corners, a passed ball moved the runner from third base to home (4-1). A one-out intentional walk would load the bases later in the inning, only to see a liner to left field move another run across the dish (5-1).
After singles by Austin Gaines (Dunedin, Fla.) and Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario) led off the home half of the seventh, Kurtis Mullaney (Jacksonville, Fla.) was hit by a 3-2 delivery to load the bases. Greene picked up his third RBI of the season, after a long at-bat drew a full count walk and plated Gaines (5-2). The Eagles would draw even later in the inning as Wickens singled to score Reeves and was succeeded by Alvarez’s two RBI single to left field that moved pinch runner Joe Guarnaccia (Davie, Fla.) and Mullaney home (5-5). Recent A-Sun Player of the Week selection Tim Roberson (West Palm Beach, Fla.) would give the home team the advantage later in the inning on a bunt single that allowed Wickens to come to the plate from third (6-5).
The Golden Panthers brought the game level once again in the first half of the eighth, when a double down the left field line gave a runner enough time to score from second base (6-6).
The Blue and Green would go behind by two runs in the visitor’s side of the final frame. A double down the left field line, followed by a single down the right field line allowed the first run of the inning to score. A two-out passed ball later in the frame would allow another run to come home before the third out could be recorded (8-6).
In the final half inning, the Eagles would be held scoreless and the game came to a close with the home team trailing by two runs, 8-6.
FGCU collected six runs on 10 hits in the contest. Alvarez went 4-for-5 with three RBI and Wickens batted 2-for-5 with a run scored and an RBI. Roberson added a hit and an RBI, while Greene did the same and added a run scored. Gaines and Reeves each added one hit and one run apiece, while Mullaney and Guarnaccia each came across the plate once.
Tuesday’s contest was the first of a home-and-home series between the Eagles and Golden Panthers this season. The Blue and Green will head to Miami on April 6th at 6 p.m. to complete the series.
The Eagles will now hit the road to battle with conference foe Stetson in a three-game weekend series at Melching Field at Conrad Park in DeLand, Fla. The teams will play one game on Friday at 6:30 p.m. and a doubleheader is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start on Saturday. A-Sun Preseason Pitcher of the Year Chris Sale (Lakeland, Fla.) is the probable starter in the Friday meeting.
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