Baseball Opens 2012 Season With Three-Game Set Against Bethune-Cookman
Thursday, February 16, 2012 | by Caleb Baker (@calebaker)
Bethune-Cookman (1-0)
Florida Gulf Coast (0-1)
2/17/2012 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 382
Florida Gulf Coast0102102006112
Win: DAILEY (1-0) 2.142204
Loss: COONEY (0-1) 0.114220
LEE (BCU) 512200
ACEVEDO (BCU) 412110
JOHNSON (BCU) 512000
BEDNAR (FGCU) 513000

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The 2012 FGCU baseball season gets underway on Friday, Feb. 17 at 6:30 p.m., as the Eagles welcome Bethune-Cookman to newly-renovated Swanson Stadium for the first contest in the three-game opening weekend series. The contest will also mark the first on the 56-game regular season slate and begins an 11-game homestand for the Green and Blue.

The Eagles and Wildcats open with the Friday evening contest and follow with a 2:00 p.m. game on Saturday and a 1:00 p.m. meeting on Sunday. Former FGCU Eagle, 2010 Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Year and current Chicago White Sox pitcher Chris Sale will be in attendance to throw out the first pitch on Friday. Fans with a ticket to that night’s FGCU men’s basketball televised game against Stetson will also be admitted into the baseball opener.

“Our players and coaches have been working very hard through the fall and the start of the spring,” said three-time Atlantic Sun Coach of the Year Dave Tollett. “Bethune-Cookman will be a good test this weekend, being ranked in the preseason top 40, but the team is definitely ready to get the season started.”

Picked to finish sixth in the Atlantic Sun Preseason Coaches’ Poll, FGCU is 7-2 all-time in season-openers with a 7-1 mark when opening the season at home. The Eagles also hold a combined 9-0 record when beginning the season with a three-game series.

The Green and Blue finished the 2011 season with a 27-28 overall record, finishing seventh in the final A-Sun standings with a 16-14 league mark and narrowly missing their second straight A-Sun tournament appearance. The Green and Blue welcome back 14 players from last season’s team and bring in 20 newcomers to this year’s squad.

Leading the offensive returners, junior catcher Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary) finished last season with a .314 average, 29 RBI and 27 runs scored, adding nine doubles and a pair of home runs. Additionally, sophomore Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) wrapped up the 2011 season hitting .288 while driving in 23 RBI and scoring 38 runs. Competing in every contest last year, sophomore Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS) held a .234 average with 18 extra-base hits, scoring 30 runs and bringing in 29 RBI.

On the mound the Eagles bring back seven arms which combined for a 15-13 record with 192 strikeouts in 105 appearances, including 30 starts. Expected to make the Friday evening start for the Eagles, senior right-hander Jason Forjet (Pembroke Pines, Fla./Nova HS) finished with a 3-5 record and a 4.28 ERA in 18 appearances last season, accumulating 52 strikeouts and just 15 walks. Earning a spot on the A-Sun All-Freshmen team in 2011, Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS) returns for his sophomore campaign coming off a season which saw the righty finish with a 5-1 record and a 5.06 ERA in 22 appearances, totaling a team-high 69.1 innings on the hill. Senior southpaw Patrick Nathanson (Maitland, Fla./Trinity Prep) is also expected to be in the rotation this season after utilizing a medical hardship last year.

Bethune-Cookman concluded the 2011 season with a 36-24 overall record, clinching the MEAC crown with an unblemished 18-0 mark. Advancing to the Tallahassee Regional, the Wildcats fell to host Florida State (6-5) and were eliminated by UCF (16-5). In 2011, B-CU was led offensively by senior infielder Brashad Johnson, who hit .337 with 36 runs scored and 31 RBI, while classmate Alejandro Sanchez finished last season with a .305 mark, adding 46 runs scored and a team-high eight stolen bases. The probable starter on Friday night, sophomore Scott Garner went 9-2 with a 2.48 ERA in a team-best 83.1 innings last year. B-CU is under the direction of first-year head coach Jason Beverlin, who was most recently the pitching coach at the University of Tennessee. Last season at Swanson Stadium, the Eagles took both contests in two-game series with the Wildcats. FGCU holds a slim 4-3 lead in the all-time series between the two schools.

FGCU will be running the “Diamond Dollars” promotion throughout the entire season, which current students are eligible for. Students attending the game will be entered to win $100 if an FGCU player hits the SIP sign on the outfield wall in the air or hits a homerun over the sign. If the game finishes without a winner, the money rolls over to the next game continuing to increase the pot. Winners must have a valid FGCU student ID and be present to win.

Probable Starters
Friday, Feb. 17 – 6:30 p.m.
FGCU – RHP Jason Forjet, Sr. (3-5, 4.28 ERA, 67.1 IP, 52 SO, 15 BB, .335 B/Avg.)*
B-CU – RHP Scott Garner, So. (9-2, 2.48 ERA, 83.1 IP, 50 SO, 20 BB, .226 B/Avg.)*

Saturday, Feb. 18 – 2 p.m.
FGCU – LHP Patrick Nathanson, R-Sr. (Did not see game action in 2011)
B-CU – RHP Montana Durapau, So. (1-4, 7.91 ERA, 33.0 IP, 36 SO, 37 BB, .296 B/Avg.)*

Sunday, Feb. 19 – 1 p.m.
FGCU – LHP Brandon Bixler, So. (0-3, 8.69 ERA, 26.1 IP, 22 SO, 26 BB, .325 B/Avg.)*
B-CU – RHP Rayan Gonzalez, Sr. (0-3, 4.86 ERA, 46.1 IP, 49 SO, 24 BB, .319 B/Avg.)*
*2011 statistics

Live stats, in-game Twitter updates (@FGCUEagles and @FGCUBaseball), results and recaps from all FGCU events are available at www.FGCUAthletics.com.