Texas Tech Turns Away FGCU in Series Finale Slugfest
|Florida Gulf Coast||0||0||3||2||0||0||0||2||1||8||14||1|
|Win: Shellhorn (4-1)||2.0||2||0||0||0||3|
|Loss: BIXLER (2-3)||3.2||8||7||7||5||2|
LUBBOCK, Texas – In a game that featured a combined 22 runs and 30 hits, Texas Tech scored 11 unanswered runs in the heart of the game to pick up its second straight win against the youthful FGCU baseball team by the score of 14-8 on a brisk Wednesday night in front of 2,591 fans at Rip Griffin Park.
FGCU jumped out a 3-1 lead in the top of the third on the strength of sophomore Andrew Valencia’s (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep HS) team-high fourth home run, but couldn’t fend off 13 runs by the Red Raiders from innings 3-6 en route to slipping to 8-13 on the season. Texas Tech, who owns a win over then-No. 10 Arizona State this season, moved to 14-8 on the year, including 12-1 at home.
Five different Eagles finished with multi-hit evenings in their season-high 14-hit performance. Leading the way was redshirt freshman shortstop Alex Diaz (Miami, Fla./John A. Ferguson HS) who went a perfect 4-for-4 at the dish with two runs scored, a home run and a career-high three RBI. Diaz, who entered the series just 6-for-49 on the season, went a combined 6-for-8 over the two games.
Valencia’s two-out, two-run homer in the third inning also extended his hit streak to a team season-long 11 games and highlighted a 2-for-4 night at the dish that also included a double. Valencia’s home run also brought his season RBI total to 20 in 18 games. Sophomore Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) went 3-for-5 with a run scored from the leadoff spot for his second three-hit game of the year. Freshmen Michael Suchy (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast HS) and Kevin Young (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla./Ponte Vedra Beach HS) each supplied two hits.
Unfortunately, for FGCU, one of its best offensive performances of the season was trumped by Texas Tech’s 16-hit brigade and the most runs given up by the Eagles this season. Sophomore lefty Brandon Bixler (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS), who threw a one-hitter earlier in the year against Bryant, got the start on the mound, but lasted just 3.2 innings due to giving up seven earned run to move to 2-3.
The Eagles sent four different pitchers to the mound, while Texas Tech beat that number by three thanks to using six relievers. Red Raiders starter Brannon Easterling, who was making his first appearance since a season-ending injury last year, went 2.2 innings and gave up three earned runs. Sophomore Harrison Cooney (Vero Beach, Fla./Vero Beach HS) finished off the game for FGCU with two scoreless innings, striking out three batters. Cooney has now tossed 9.2 straight innings without allowing a run in his last three appearances out of the pen, fanning 12 batters during that span.
After Texas Tech responded to FGCU’s three-run top of the third with two runs of its own in the bottom half of the inning to tie it at 3-3, the Eagles plated two more runs in the fourth to take the lead back, at 5-3.
The Red Raiders would control the game from that point on, scoring four runs in the fourth, three in the fifth and four more in the sixth to conclude their scoring with a 14-5 lead.
FGCU will now shift its focus back to Atlantic Sun action where it is 2-1 after a series victory over North Florida last weekend. The Eagles will play host to a three-game set with ETSU (11-8, 1-2), beginning on Friday at 6:30 p.m.
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