Knapp Guides FGCU to Series-Opening Victory Over Kennesaw State, 5-2
|Florida Gulf Coast||0||0||0||3||0||0||2||0||X||5||6||0|
|Win: KNAPP (6-4)||9.0||8||2||2||2||4|
|Loss: Josh Carr (8-2)||8.0||6||5||5||3||5|
|Andy Almonte (KSU)||4||1||2||0||0||0|
|Ronnie Freeman (KSU)||4||1||2||0||0||0|
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Taking a shutout into the ninth inning for the third time this season, sophomore right-hander Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS) worked his third complete game of the season, guiding the FGCU baseball team to a 5-2 victory over Kennesaw State in the Atlantic Sun series opener on Friday evening at Swanson Stadium.
“Knapp pitched another outstanding game for us this evening,” said head coach Dave Tollett. “He’s been doing a nice job of keeping hitters guessing at the plate and it allowed him to come away with another complete-game win tonight. Offensively, Dwyer has also really stepped up for us lately and provided us with some key at-bats again tonight. We need to keep the hitting and pitching going like this through these final two games against a tough Kennesaw squad.”
Picking up a key league win over the second-place Owls, the Eagles move to 16-25 on the year and remain in sixth place in the A-Sun standings with a 7-9 conference mark. Meanwhile, the Owls head into Saturday’s contest with a 28-18 (12-7 A-Sun) record.
Having already recorded back-to-back complete-game shutouts in A-Sun action this year, Knapp was just one out away from his third of the season. With the bases loaded in the ninth, the Port Charlotte, Fla. product worked an infield fly out to third base and then got the next batter to ground into what appeared to be a double play ball. However, the runner’s speed down the first base line kept the inning alive for Owls as one run came across the plate to make it a 5-1 game. KSU would later send a single up the middle to cut the deficit to 5-2, before Knapp finished off the contest with a groundout to second base for the third complete game of his young collegiate career.
In the nine innings of work, Knapp surrendered two runs on eight hits while striking out four in his 103-pitch outing, as he improved to 6-4 on the year. Through 10 starts this season, the second-year pitcher holds a 2.25 ERA with 44 strikeouts and just 13 walks in 80.0 innings, while holding opponents to a .233 average at the plate.
FGCU broke out to a 3-0 lead in the home side of the fourth following a leadoff single from senior Ryan Gebhart (Waco, Texas/Midway HS/Missouri) and a sacrifice bunt from redshirt freshman Kirby Retzer (Boca Raton, Fla./Boca Raton HS) in the next at-bat. Opening a strong offensive performance, sophomore Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS) connected for an RBI double to centerfield to score Gebhart, and quickly moved to third on a wild pitch. Sophomore Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) then stepped into the box and smashed a liner back up the middle to plate Dwyer from third base for the 2-0 FGCU lead. After a single by freshman Zack Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS) moved runners to the corners, sophomore Andrew Valencia’s (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) single up the middle pushed the Eagles’ advantage to three runs.
Following a one-out hit-by-pitch to freshman Michael Suchy (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast HS) and back-to-back walks to Gebhart and Retzer, Dwyer continued his hot evening at the plate by lacing a two-RBI double off the wall in right center field to give the Green and Blue a 5-0 lead. This proved to be the only scoring until KSU brought in the two runs in its last chance at the dish.
Leading the offensive effort in the contest, Dwyer went 2-for-4 with a run scored and three RBI while Bednar went 1-for-4 with a run scored and one RBI. Gebhart added a 1-for-2 game with a pair of walks, scoring twice. Tillery and Valencia accounted for the other two hits in the contest, as Valencia also picked up his team-best 31st RBI of the year.
Not to be lost in the contest, KSU starter Josh Carr also worked a complete game for the Owls, surrendering five runs on six hits and three walks, while registering five strike outs. At the plate, the Owls scored two runs on eight hits and two walks.
The two teams will be back in action on Saturday beginning with a 2 p.m. first pitch. The Eagles are set to bring senior right-hander Jason Forjet (Pembroke Pines, Fla./Nova HS) (0-4, 3.41 ERA) to the mound to square off with KSU junior lefty Kevin Kyle (0-3, 4.00 ERA).
Saturday, April 28 – 2 p.m.
FGCU – RHP Jason Forjet, Sr. (0-4, 3.41 ERA, 60.2 IP, 48 K, 18 BB, .262 B/Avg.)
KSU – LHP Kevin Kyle, Jr. (0-3, 4.00 ERA, 45.0 IP, 39 K, 18 BB, .280 B/Avg.)
Sunday, April 29 – 1 p.m.
FGCU – LHP Brandon Bixler, So. (2-4, 4.99 ERA, 39.2 IP, 42 K, 35 BB, .170 B/Avg.)
KSU – RHP Kevin McCoy, So. (1-3, 2.23 ERA, 36.1 IP, 37 K, 13 BB, .265 B/Avg.)
Live stats, in-game Twitter updates (@FGCUBaseball), results and recaps will be available at www.FGCUAthletics.com.
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