FGCU Set to Open Home-and-Home Series with No. 28 FAU at Swanson Stadium
Monday, April 09, 2012 | by Caleb Baker (@calebaker)
Photo by Dennis Snyder
Photo by Dennis Snyder
#28 FAU (22-12)
Florida Gulf Coast (13-20)
4/10/2012 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 187
Florida Gulf Coast0022000116100
Win: COONEY (3-2) 1.021110
Loss: Bo Logan (2-3) 0.111100
Kyle Newton (FAU) 432111
Mike Spano (FAU) 302110

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Originally scheduled to be on the road on Tuesday evening, the FGCU baseball will now host FAU at Swanson Stadium in the first contest of the home-and-home non-conference series between the two schools, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The teams have agreed to swap home dates, as President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit FAU’s campus on Tuesday. The Eagles will now make the return trip to Boca Raton, Fla. on May 8 for a 6:30 p.m. first pitch.

After a solid 111-pitch outing by senior right-hander Jason Forjet (Pembroke Pines, Fla./Nova HS) was squandered in the top of the eighth, FGCU was able to respond with three runs in the bottom half of the inning to take the final game of its Atlantic Sun series with Mercer by a 4-1 margin last Saturday. The win moved FGCU’s record to 12-20 on the season, as it now sits sixth in the league standings at 5-7.

On Tuesday, sophomore left-hander Brandon Bixler (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) will be making his seventh start of the season for the Green and Blue. The Oviedo, Fla. product owns a 5.28 ERA with 33 strikeouts, good for second on the team, while holding opponents to a .167 batting average. With a 2-4 record through 30.2 innings of work, Bixler took a no-hit bid to the final out of the game in his first victory of the season over Bryant (Feb. 26) at Swanson Stadium, earning one of Louisville Slugger’s National Player of the Week honors.

At the plate, the Eagles have been led by sophomore Brandon Bednar’s (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) .278 average, along with 19 runs scored and 13 RBI. Leading the team with seven stolen bases in nine attempts and a .371 on-base percentage, senior Ryan Gebhart (Waco, Texas/Midway HS/Missouri) is hitting at a .256 clip with 10 RBI with team-highs of 22 runs scored and 20 walks. Each scoring 13 times in the middle of the lineup, sophomores Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS) and Andrew Valencia (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) are batting .256 and .235, respectively, while Valencia also owns the team lead for home runs (6), RBI (30), total bases (52) and slugging percentage (.491).

The all-time series between the schools sits in favor of FGCU, 6-2, including a 2-2 mark when playing at Swanson Stadium. Ironically, the two schools have gone 2-2 over the last two seasons, with both teams winning on the road each time.

Climbing back into the national rankings at No. 28 this week, FAU enters the mid-week meeting following a 2-1 Sun Belt weekend series with South Alabama (W 3-2, W 7-5, L 7-4) in Boca Raton. The Owls opened the year with a three-game sweep of Alabama (W 5-2, W 9-2, W 9-4), and have beaten Boston College (13-4) and Rutgers (5-2), who are common opponents with the Eagles.

Senior catcher Mike Albaladejo is leading the Owls offensively, hitting .352 with a 17 RBI and a team-best 27 runs scored. Juniors outfielder Corey Keller (.342) and infielder Kyle Newton (.313) are the only other regulars hitting over the .300 mark this season for FAU. The Owls intend to use freshman right-hander Kevin Perez (0-0, 7.00 ERA).