FGCU Leaps Past Michigan, 8-1, in Midweek Meeting at Swanson Stadium
Wednesday, February 29, 2012 | by Caleb Baker (@calebaker)
Photo by Dennis Snyder
Photo by Dennis Snyder
Michigan (5-3)
Florida Gulf Coast (5-3)
2/29/2012 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 1568
Florida Gulf Coast02101004X8100
Win: KNAPP (2-1) 8.041104
Loss: Clark (1-2) 4.084433
O'Neill (MICH) 411101
Winger (MICH) 301000
Zott (MICH) 301000
DiLaura (MICH) 101000
DWYER (FGCU) 512100

FORT MYERS, Fla. – A strong eight-inning performance from sophomore right-hander Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS) propelled the FGCU baseball team to its fourth-straight victory on Wednesday evening, defeating Big Ten foe Michigan, 8-1, in front of a crowd of 1,568 at Swanson Stadium.

“Anytime we can get a win against a BCS opponent its good for our program and our community,” said head coach Dave Tollett. “Ricky had another good outing against a good Michigan team tonight. It’s his second straight midweek start against a BCS school and he has done very well in both outings. We were also patient at the plate tonight, with eight walks, and we were able to bring some of those base runners in to score.”

The contest moved both teams’ records to 5-3 on the season, while the Eagles improved to 2-1 all-time against the Wolverines. The Green and Blue also improved to 2-0 all-time on games played on Feb. 29, previously defeating Augustana 4-1 while a member of Division II during the 2004 season.

Upping his mark to 2-1, Knapp finished the contest with four strikeouts and no walks, while accounting for the Wolverines lone earned run. The Port Charlotte, Fla. product allowed just four hits through his eight innings on the hill. Through three appearances this season, Knapp holds a 2.16 ERA with 10 strikeouts and no walks in 16.2 innings of work.

Michigan took a 1-0 lead in its first chance at the plate, as three-hole hitter Michael O’Neil connected for his third home run of the season on a solo blast to left field.

The Eagles moved ahead in the runs column in the bottom of the second as a pair of base runners touched home plate. Junior Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary) opened the frame with single back up the middle, and was followed with a double to deep right center by junior Dane Wisneski (Jupiter, Fla./ Palm Beach Gardens HS/Daytona State College) to put runners on second and third with no outs. An RBI single through the left side by sophomore Andrew Valencia (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) leveled the game at 1-1, and the Eagles quickly took a 2-1 lead when a 6-4-3 double play ball allowed Wisneski to score from third base.

FGCU extended its advantage to 3-1 in the home side of the third. Following a walk to sophomore Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) and a bunt single from centerfielder Ryan Gebhart (Waco, Texas/Midway HS/Missouri), a fly out to center by sophomore Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS) moved Bednar 90-feet to third base. With one out in the inning, freshman Zack Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS) laid a squeeze bunt down the first base line to score Bednar and give the Eagles the two-run lead.

Consecutive singles by Dwyer and Tillery were followed by a walk to Reeves, loading the bases for the Eagles in the fifth inning. Later in the inning with two outs, a wild pitch to the backstop allowed Dwyer to easily come home from third and give the Green and Blue a 4-1 advantage.

The home lead was pushed to 8-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning. With one out in the frame, three straight walks to freshman Michael Suchy (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast HS), redshirt freshman Alex Diaz (Miami, Fla./John A. Ferguson HS) and Bednar loaded the bases for the Green and Blue. Battling in a lengthy at-bat, Gebhart eventually laced a double off the left field wall to score Suchy and Diaz for a 6-1 lead. With runners on second and third with one out, Dwyer roped a single into right field to plate Bednar, and Gebhart later scored on the play as Dwyer was caught in a rundown between first and second. Accounting for the Eagles’ eighth run of the game, Gebhart proved to be the final tally of the evening as FGCU held Michigan scoreless in the top of the ninth to claim the 8-1 victory.

Following Knapp’s departure, freshman right-hander Jack English (Delray Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman HS) tossed the final scoreless frame for the Green and Blue, retiring the side in order.

The Eagles scored eight runs on 10 hits and one Michigan error. Eight of the nine FGCU batters recorded at least one hit in the contest, led by Gebhart and Dwyer, who combined for three RBI and each went 2-for-5 with a run scored. Bednar added a 1-for-2 day at the plate, scoring twice and picking up three walks. Valencia and Tillery each picked up an RBI, while both going 1-for-4 at the plate. Reeves, Wisneski, Suchy and Diaz also scored once for the Green and Blue.

Michigan starter RHP Kyle Clark (1-2) picked up the loss after throwing four innings and surrendering four earned runs on eight hits. The Wolverines plated one run on four hits in the contest.

A quick turnaround puts the Eagles right back at Swanson Stadium for a three-game series with Boston College beginning Thursday, March 1 at 6:30 p.m. The two teams will play again on Friday, March 2 at 6:30 p.m. and close the series on Sunday with a 1 p.m. first pitch.

Probable Starters
Thursday, Mar. 1 – 6:30 p.m.
FGCU – RHP Jason Forjet, Sr. (0-0, 2.13 ERA, 12.2 IP, 13 SO, 3 BB, .224 B/Avg.)

Friday, Mar. 2 – 6:30 p.m.
FGCU – LHP Andrew Polly, Jr. (1-0, 1.69 ERA, 10.2 IP, 6 SO, 4 BB, .231 B/Avg.)
BC – RHP Eric Stevens, So. (1-0, 5.23 ERA, 10.1 IP, 6 SO, 3 BB, .275 B/Avg.)

Sunday, Mar. 4 – 1:00 p.m.
FGCU – LHP Brandon Bixler, So. (1-1, 1.42 ERA, 12.2 IP, 17 SO, 7 BB, .051 B/Avg.)
BC – RHP Matt Alvarez, So. (1-0, 1.04 ERA, 8.2 IP, 5 SO, 9 BB, .107 B/Avg.)

Live stats, in-game Twitter updates (@FGCUEagles and @FGCUBaseball), results and recaps from all FGCU events are available at www.FGCUAthletics.com. Free live audio for the Thursday contest with Boston College will also be available, with Tom James on the call.