Baseball Sweeps Weekend Series with Bryant Behind Bixler’s One-Hitter
|Florida Gulf Coast||0||0||2||0||1||0||2||0||X||5||7||0|
|Win: BIXLER (1-1)||8.2||1||1||1||3||12|
|Loss: SCHLITTER (0-1)||4.1||3||3||0||5||5|
FORT MYERS, Fla. – On the strength of sophomore Brandon Bixler’s (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) dominate performance on the mound, the FGCU baseball team completed the weekend sweep of Bryant University with a 5-1 victory on Sunday at Swanson Stadium. With a no-hitter intact entering the ninth, Bixler surrendered his lone hit in the contest with two outs in the final frame.
“Bixler was electric on the mound this afternoon,” said head coach Dave Tollett. “He showed some good command and had his off-speed and breaking ball really working today. Unfortunately, he lost the no-hitter in the ninth, but it was an outstanding outing from him regardless. Offensively, we were able to get some production out of the top half the lineup to go with the solid effort on the mound. It was a great team effort today and we will try to continue it into Wednesday’s matchup with Michigan and next weekend against Boston College.”
Sweeping the three-game series, the Eagles improved to 4-3 overall while Bryant dropped to 2-4.
Marking the fifth one-hitter in program history and just the second in the Division I era, Bixler had an outstanding afternoon on the mound for the Green and Blue. Scattering three walks throughout the contest, the lefty racked up a career-high 12 strikeouts in his 26-out gem. Bixler finished the afternoon with one hit allowed, accounting for the Bulldogs’ lone run in the game. Following a two-out walk and a wild pitch in the ninth, David Soltis stepped to the plate and hit a 3-2 pitch into centerfield to bring in the visitor’s only run from second base.
Scoreless through the first two frames, the Eagles jumped ahead 2-0 in the third inning. Junior Tito Mendoza (Miramar, Fla./Cooper City HS/Cowley CC) was the first to reach base on an error by the shortstop and advanced to second when centerfielder Ryan Gebhart (Waco, Texas/Midway HS/Missouri) drew a one-out walk. Sophomore Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS) loaded the bases for the Green and Blue on a high fly ball which fell in for a single as the right fielder lost it in the sun. Later in the frame with two outs and the bases still full, junior Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter's Secondary) laced a single back up the middle, bringing in Mendoza and Gebhart for the two-run lead.
The Eagles added another run to the scoring column in the fifth following walks to sophomore Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) and Dwyer. An error by the third baseman allowed freshman Zack Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS) to load the bases with two outs, and Reeves followed with a walk of his own to score Bednar from third.
Leading by a score of 3-0, FGCU plated two more runners following the seventh inning stretch. Bednar kick-started the frame with a double to right field and swiped third when the corners came in to defend a likely bunt situation from Gebhart. Ahead in the count 1-0, Gebhart roped a double down the left field line to move Bednar across the plate for the 4-0 lead. The Green and Blue eventually took a five-run advantage when Gebhart scored on a single through the left side from Tillery.
The final score of the contest came from the Bulldogs, when Soltis broke up the no-hitter with the RBI single to centerfield. Junior right-hander Danny Patrick (Jupiter, Fla./Jupiter HS/Pepperdine/Palm Beach State College) closed out the contest for the Green and Blue, replacing Bixler after his 136th pitch of the day, recording the final out on a swinging strikeout as the Eagles took the 5-1 victory.
With the win, Bixler improved to 1-1 on the season, owning an ERA at 1.42 and a .051 opponent batting average. Bryant’s Craig Schlitter (0-1) was issued the loss in the game, going 4.1 innings and allowing three unearned runs on as many hits to go with five walks and five strikeouts.
At the plate, the Eagles scored five runs on seven hits and two Bryant errors. Gebhart had a 2-for-3 afternoon, adding a walk while scoring twice and also driving in one RBI. Going 1-for-4, Bednar added a walk and pair of runs scored, while Reeves hit 1-for-3 with a walk and three RBI. Additionally, Dwyer had a 1-for-2 day at the plate with a pair of walks, while Mendoza scored the Eagles’ other run in his 1-for-4 game.
Through the three-game weekend series, Dwyer led all hitters with a .625 average, going 5-for-8 with four walks while scoring once and bringing in three RBI. Gebhart held a .364 average over the three games with three walks, three runs scored and two RBI. Bednar scored a team-high five times, while Suchy and Tillery each scored twice while combining for three RBI in the trio of games.
The Eagles land back at Swanson Stadium on Wednesday, Feb. 29 as they host Big Ten foe Michigan beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tickets for the contest with the Wolverines are available at the FGCU Ticket Office located inside Alico Arena, or by calling 239-590-7145. Fans can also purchase tickets online at www.FGCUAthletics.com/tickets.
Live stats, in-game Twitter updates (@FGCUEagles and @FGCUBaseball), results and recaps from all FGCU events are available at www.FGCUAthletics.com.
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