No. 1 Florida Outlasts FGCU, 3-2, in Series Finale
|Florida Gulf Coast||0||0||1||0||0||1||0||0||0||2||5||1|
|Win: Gibson (1-0)||2.1||0||0||0||0||4|
|Loss: FORJET (0-2)||6.1||4||3||3||1||7|
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Despite holding the nation’s No. 1 team to a season-low four hits and three runs, the FGCU baseball team fell in the series finale of the three-game weekend set with Florida, 3-2, on Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, Fla.
“We pitched very well in 26 of the 27 innings in the series,” said head coach Dave Tollett. “Florida is very good offensively, and our pitchers did a respectable job of keeping them out of the hits and runs columns. We also got some production at the plate against a very good pitching staff. They are the number one team in the country for a reason, and they were able to come away with three good wins this weekend.”
The Eagles drop to 6-8 in the loss, while the Gators push their winning streak to 13 games and improve to 15-1 on the season.
In yet another solid start for the FGCU pitching staff, senior right-hander Jason Forjet (Pembroke Pines, Fla./Nova HS) (0-2) opened the contest on the mound for the Green and Blue and tossed 6.1 innings, allowing three runs on four hits and one walk in his 100-pitch outing. The Pembroke Pines, Fla. product also recorded seven punch outs in the contest, which was a new season-high for the Gators’ offense. Through four starts this season, Forjet owns a 2.96 ERA with 23 strikeouts and just five walks, while holding opponents to a .240 average in 24.1 innings of work.
FGCU was the first to light up the scoreboard in the visitor’s side of the third inning. Redshirt freshman Alex Diaz (Miami, Fla./John A. Ferguson HS) got the frame going with a one-out infield single and moved to second on a grounder to second base by sophomore Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS). Continuing a productive series, senior Ryan Gebhart (Waco, Texas/Midway HS/Missouri) drove Diaz in from second on a well-hit liner into left field for the 1-0 lead.
The top-ranked Gators reestablished the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. Following a one-out double down the right field line by Taylor Gushue, UF took the 2-1 advantage with a two-run homer run to right field by Casey Turgeon.
In the sixth inning the Green and Blue tied the game at 2-2 off the hot bat of sophomore Andrew Valencia (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep). After Diaz got the inning started again with a leadoff double into the right center gap, he was replaced on second base on a two-out double by Valencia to level the game.
Florida plated the decisive run in the seventh inning, coming on a one-out solo home run by Gushue over right field wall.
Keeping the Gators off the board over the final 1.2 frames, junior lefty RJ Brown (Brandon, Fla./Bloomingdale HS) entered in relief of Forjet and tossed 1.1 innings, before junior right-hander Danny Patrick (Jupiter, Fla./Jupiter HS/Pepperdine/Palm Beach State) finished out the remaining 0.1 inning of scoreless baseball.
At the plate, the Eagles scored two runs on five hits and one Florida error. Diaz went 2-for-3 on the day with two runs scored, while Bednar, Gebhart and Valencia each had a 1-for-4 afternoon. Gebhart and Valencia each added an RBI in the contest.
While holding No. 1 Florida to a season-low four hits, the Eagles also established a new season-low three runs scored for the Gators. Starting right-hander Jonathon Crawford threw 5.2 innings, allowing two runs on five hits with one walk and three strikeouts. Daniel Gibson (1-0) earned the victory after 2.1 scoreless innings and four strikeouts, while Austin Maddox earned his fifth save of the season.
Driving in five RBI and scoring twice, the Eagles were led by Valencia through the series, going 4-for-12 for a .333 average with a double and two homeruns. Bednar also went 4-for-12 over the three games, and Gebhart hit .250 (3-for-12) with an RBI and two runs scored. On the defensive side, Gebhart also showed his range in centerfield with 17 putouts over the trio of games.
The Eagles return to the field on Tuesday, Mar. 13 as Rutgers travels to Fort Myers for the first of a two-game midweek series beginning at 6:30 p.m. The Wednesday evening finale with the Scarlet Knights will be the final non-conference contest before opening Atlantic Sun play with UNF from March 16-18, also at Swanson Stadium.
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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