Eagles Set to Host Mercer in Atlantic Sun Weekend Baseball Action
Thursday, April 05, 2012 | by Patrick Pierson (@pierson_sid)
Sophomore Ricky Knapp, who has tossed 25.2 straight scoreless innings at home, is Friday's game one starter. (Photo by Dennis Snyder)
Sophomore Ricky Knapp, who has tossed 25.2 straight scoreless innings at home, is Friday's game one starter. (Photo by Dennis Snyder)
Mercer (19-12, 3-7 A-Sun)
Florida Gulf Coast (11-19, 4-6 A-Sun)
4/6/2012 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 204
Florida Gulf Coast000100011381
Win: LOVE (4-3) 7.062135
Loss: KNAPP (4-3) 7.153222
DIAZ (FGCU) 403100

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Coming off a milestone victory on Wednesday evening against No. 2 Florida State, the FGCU baseball team rolls back into Atlantic Sun Conference action with a three-game weekend series against Mercer, beginning with a doubleheader on Friday at 3 p.m. at Swanson Stadium.

The two teams will close the three-game weekend set with a 2 p.m. start on Saturday afternoon. Live audio for the Friday contests will be provided at www.FGCUAthletics.com with Tom James on the call.

Earning the program’s second-ever win against a ranked opponent with the victory over the Seminoles finished off a five-game road swing for FGCU. The Eagles enter the weekend series with an 11-18 overall record which includes a 4-5 league mark. The Green and Blue’s all-time league record went to 78-39, with an 8-4 series record against Mercer including a 5-1 mark at Swanson Stadium.

FGCU intends to utilize sophomore right-hander Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS) and freshman Brady Anderson (Arcadia, Fla./DeSoto County HS), respectively, through two games of the doubleheader on Friday, followed by senior right-hander Jason Forjet (Pembroke Pines, Fla./Nova HS) in the Saturday finale.

Heading into the Friday afternoon opener, Knapp owns a 25.2 scoreless inning streak at Swanson Stadium. In his previous two A-Sun outings in front of the hometown crowd, the Port Charlotte, Fla. product registered back-to-back complete game shutouts, earning the leagues Pitcher of the Week honor on both occasions. Knapp becomes the first A-Sun pitcher to repeat the weekly honor since former Eagle and current White Sox pitcher Chris Sale received the award three consecutive times during the 2010 season. Opening the conference series for the fourth time this season, the righty owns a 4-2 record with 27 strikeouts and only five walks in a team-high 48 innings of working, also holding a 1.88 ERA, good for third in the A-Sun, and a .208 opponent batting average.

Making his first collegiate start in the second contest of Friday’s doubleheader, Anderson toes the rubber after appearing in 10 games in relief for the Eagles. Opening the season with eight straight scoreless innings, the Arcadia, Fla. product holds a 1-3 record with a 3.38 ERA in 18.2 innings of work. Registering 14 punch outs, Anderson picked up his first career save while batting 1-for-3 in the Eagles’ 4-3 victory over USC Upstate (March 31) last weekend.

Struggling to find offensive support in the contests he’s started, Forjet (0-2) will look for his first victory of the season in the Saturday series finale. In his seven starts this season, the Eagles are hitting at a lowly .194 clip, scoring just 22 runs with a .265 on-base percentage. Sitting second on the team with 44.1 innings pitched, the Pembroke Pines, Fla. is also second on the team with 31 strikeouts and a 3.05 ERA. In arguably the program’s biggest victory to date, Forjet picked up his fifth career save, and first of the season, as the Eagles defeat No. 2 Florida State, 5-1, on Wednesday evening in Tallahassee, Fla.

Offensively, the Eagles are led by sophomore Brandon Bednar’s (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) .278 average, scoring 12 times with a team-best 19 runs. Swiping a team-high six bases in eight attempts, senior Ryan Gebhart (Waco, Texas/Midway HS/Missouri) is hitting at a .255 clip, sitting second on the squad with 40 total bases, also scoring a team-high 19 times and adding 10 RBI. Leading the team with 15 extra-base hits, including a team-high five home runs, sophomore Andrew Valencia (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) also leads the Green and Blue with 47 total bases, 25 RBI and a .500 slugging percentage.

Currently tied for eighth in the league, Mercer (18-12, 2-7 A-Sun) enters the weekend series coming off a six-inning victory over Savannah State (5-1) on Tuesday and a 1-2 series loss to Stetson (W 7-4, L 7-6, L 8-1) last weekend in Macon, Ga. Ranking first in the A-Sun with a .420 batting average, a .804 slugging percentage and 90 total bases, redshirt sophomore Nick Backlund has driven in a league-best 38 runs scored while coming across to score a team-high 30 times. The Bears have announced a rotation of senior left-hander Brandon Love (3-3, 5.06 ERA) in game one, freshman righty Dimitri Kourtis (5-1, 3.68 ERA) in game two and redshirt-junior southpaw David Randall (1-3, 3.28 ERA) on Saturday. Last season in Macon, Ga., Mercer took the weekend set with victories in the opening two contests, 15-6, 9-3, before FGCU closed the series with a 6-3 win in the longest game in program history (16 innings).

Probable Starters
Friday, April 6 – 3 p.m.
FGCU – RHP Ricky Knapp, So. (4-2, 1.88 ERA, 48.0 IP, 27 SO, 5 BB, .208 B/Avg.)
MERCER – LHP Brandon Love, Sr. (3-3, 5.06 ERA, 37.1 IP, 37 SO, 15 BB, .299 B/Avg.)

Friday, April 6 – Game 2
FGCU – RHP Brady Anderson, Fr. (1-3, 3.38 ERA, 18.2 IP, 14 SO, 6 BB, .270 B/Avg.)
MERCER – RHP Dimitri Kourtis, Fr. (5-1, 3.68 ERA, 36.2 IP, 24 SO, 7 BB, .217 B/Avg.)

Saturday, April 7 – 2 p.m.
FGCU – RHP Jason Forjet, Sr. (0-2, 3.05 ERA, 44.1 IP, 31 SO, 12 BB, .243 B/Avg.)
MERCER – LHP David Randall, Jr. (1-3, 3.28 ERA, 35.2 IP, 32 SO, 13 BB, .292 B/Avg.)

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