No. 9 Hurricanes Take Down Eagles in Final Inning, 5-4
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The FGCU baseball team took a one-run lead in the ninth inning over No. 9 Miami on Tuesday evening in Coral Gables, Fla., but the Hurricanes plated two runners in their final chance at the plate to down the Eagles, 5-4.
Currently 44th in RPI, the Eagles’ record drops to 34-18 (22-5 A-Sun) on the year while No. 9 Miami improved to 38-13 (19-8 ACC).
“This was a great ballgame with two quality baseball teams,” said head coach Dave Tollett. “Anytime you face a nationally ranked program like Miami, you always want to bring your best stuff. Unfortunately, we just came up a little short in the ninth tonight.”
Junior Jack Wagoner (Berlin, Conn.) started the evening on the mound, throwing four innings and allowing two earned runs on five hits with a strikeout. Sophomore Patrick Nathanson (Maitland, Fla.) threw four innings in relief and allowed one earned run on two hits with three strikeouts, and senior Pete Woodworth (St. Petersburg, Fla.) moved to 8-2 on the season after allowing two earned runs in the final frame on three hits in the loss.
Steven Ewing started the first four innings on the hill for Miami, allowing no runs on three hits and two strikeouts. Daniel Miranda (4-2) earned the victory after recording the third out in the top of the ninth inning.
The No. 9 Hurricanes took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning off a Yasmani Grandal solo home run to right center, and doubled their total in their half of the third frame as Frankie Ratcliff scored following a leadoff triple (2-0). The home team held a three run advantage at the end of the fifth inning, after another solo home run by Stephen Perez (3-0).
In the top of the sixth frame, the Eagles were able to light up their side of the scoreboard. After singles by juniors Mikel Alvarez (West Palm Beach, Fla.) and Tim Roberson (West Palm Beach, Fla.) and a passed ball, the visitors had runners on second and third with one out. A fielding error by the second baseman off a Zach Maxfield (North Port, Fla.) connection allowed Alvarez to score, and a Josh Chester (Weston, Fla.) fielder’s choice plated Roberson and cut the deficit to one run (3-2).
The game drew level in the top of the seventh inning. Junior Alex Lozada (Estero, Fla.) led off with a walk, sophomore Joe Guarnaccia (Weston, Fla.) reached on a throwing error, and junior Stephen Wickens (Whitby, Ontario) loaded the bases on a hit by pitch. Alvarez stepped back to the plate and sent a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Lozada from third and bringing the game even at three apiece.
FGCU established their first lead over No. 9 Miami in the top of the final inning. Smierciak got things started with a leadoff double down the left field line. A bunt single put Lozada on first base and a throwing error on the play moved Smierciak to the dish, to give the Eagles a one run lead (4-3).
After a leadoff strikeout in the bottom of the ninth, a single to left field by Zeke DeVoss started the comeback for the home team. A double to right field by David Villasuso plated DeVoss, and a wild pitch later in the inning moved Villasuso to third. Another single to right field by Ratcliff scored Villasuso, and gave the No. 9 Hurricanes a walk-off 5-4 victory.
The Eagles tallied four runs on eight hits in the contest. Maxfield went 2-for-4 with an RBI, and Lozada went 2-for-3 with a run scored. Alvarez batted 1-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, while Chester recorded an RBI. Additionally, Smierciak and Roberson registered a run scored.
The Hurricanes plated five runs on 10 hits in the ballgame.
The Blue and Green will now prepare for the final A-Sun regular season series of the year, as UNF travels to Swanson Stadium. The first game is set for Thursday at 6:30 p.m., and a doubleheader is scheduled for Friday with a 3 p.m. opening pitch.
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