FGCU Opens A-Sun Weekend Series at Jacksonville with 7-3 Win
|Florida Gulf Coast||1||2||0||0||1||3||0||0||0||7||12||0|
|Win: KNAPP (5-3)||8.0||7||1||1||1||8|
|Loss: WOODS (0-2)||4.0||7||4||4||4||1|
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Coming off a pair of nationally-ranked non-conference wins earlier in the week, the FGCU baseball team extended its win streak to a season-high four games on Friday night as it opened its Atlantic Sun weekend series at Jacksonville with a 7-3 triumph at Sessions Stadium.
The Eagles, who never trailed, used a combination of 12 hits and a solid eight-inning performance from sophomore right-hander Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS) to improve to 15-20 overall and, more importantly, 6-7 in the A-Sun. On the flipside, Jacksonville (12-23) is now 2-8 in league action.
Knapp gave up his lone run in the first inning, going eight innings en route to improving to 5-3 on the season, while lowering his ERA to 1.85. The Port Charlotte product scattered seven hits over the 108-pitch outing, striking out eight batters. The team leader in six different pitching categories, Knapp now has 37 strikeouts and just eight walks on the year.
The FGCU bats provided Knapp with his biggest run support of the season, led by a 2-for-4 night from sophomore Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS). With the Eagles owning a 4-1 lead in the sixth inning, Dwyer delivered a two-out three-run home run by taking an 0-1 pitch over the right field wall. The round-tripper was Dwyer’s third of the season and gave him six RBI in the current 3-0 week for the Green and Blue.
Both teams plated a run in the first inning, but FGCU took the lead for good in the top of the second on a two-run double by redshirt freshman Kirby Retzer (Boca Raton, Fla./Boca Raton HS). After delivering a clutch two-out pinch-hit RBI single in the team’s win at No. 6 Miami on Wednesday night, Retzer earned the start in left field, going 2-for-4, highlighted by the two-run double that gave the Eagles a 3-1 lead.
FGCU threatened to break the game wide open in the fifth, loading the bases with no outs due to a leadoff single by sophomore Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) and walks to Dwyer and classmate Andrew Valencia (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep). Junior Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary) made good on his RBI opportunity with a sacrifice fly to right field that scored Bednar to make it 4-1. Unfortunately, for the Eagles that would be the only run that would cross in the fifth, as JU reliever Jeff Tanner worked out of the jam with a strikeout and a groundout.
Tanner wouldn’t escape in the sixth though, as the Eagles plated three runs off one swing of the bat by Dwyer. The two-out rally began with a single from freshman Michael Suchy (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast HS) and a hit-by-pitch to Bednar. Dwyer’s blast made it 7-1, giving FGCU its most runs scored in the last 14 games.
Owning his largest lead of the season, Knapp made quick work of the Dolphins in his final three innings (6-8), retiring nine of the last 10 batters he faced.
Jacksonville was happy to see the two-time A-Sun Pitcher of the Week leave the game and put together a big rally in the ninth. The Dolphins plated a pair of runs on four hits off a trio of FGCU relievers in the ninth and brought the potential game-tying run to the plate with two outs. Facing A-Sun All-Conference choice Dan Gulbransen with the bases loaded, sophomore Harrison Cooney (Vero Beach, Fla./Vero Beach HS) got the center fielder to fly out to left field to earn his second save of the year.
Eight of nine positional players finished with a hit for FGCU, including multi-hit nights for senior Ryan Gebhart (Waco, Texas/Midway HS/Missouri), Dwyer, Reeves and Retzer. Batting leadoff for the 20th time this season, Gebhart reached base four times, going 2-fo-3 with two walks and his team-leading 11th double. Bednar’s single to leadoff the fifth extended his current hit streak to seven games.
JU starter Drew Woods (0-2) was pinned with the loss after giving up four runs on seven hits and four walks.
FGCU and Jacksonville will square off in the second game of the series on Saturday at 1 p.m. with Sunday’s final scheduled for the same start time. Live video and live stats for the final two games can be found at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com.
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