Critical A-Sun Weekend Sends FGCU Baseball to Lipscomb for Three-Game Set
Thursday, May 03, 2012 | by Caleb Baker (@calebaker)
Photo by Dennis Snyder
Photo by Dennis Snyder
Florida Gulf Coast (18-27, 9-10 A-Sun)
Lipscomb (21-24, 10-9 A-Sun)
5/4/2012 | Nashville, Tenn. | Attendance: 407
Florida Gulf Coast00000000200281
Win: REHWINKEL (5-2) 3.152222
Loss: ANDERSON (1-7) 1.241102
STEWART (LIP) 403000

FORT MYERS, Fla. – With just three Atlantic Sun Conference series remaining this season, the FGCU baseball team sits in a share of fifth place alongside Lipscomb in the league standings. In a critical three-game set, the Eagles travel to Nashville, Tenn. to do battle with the Bisons, beginning Friday at 7 p.m. ET at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.

FGCU travels to the Music City with an 18-26 overall after leveling its league mark at 9-9 with a three-game sweep of Kennesaw State last weekend at Swanson Stadium.

Through the three contests with the Owls, the FGCU pitchers recorded a 1.00 ERA and combined for 32 strikeouts with just three walks, while surrender only 13 hits. Highlighting the effort on the bump was a complete game victory on Friday from sophomore Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS), a 12-strikeout outing from senior righty Jason Forjet (Pembroke Pines, Fla./Nova HS) on Saturday, and a 14 punch out performance from sophomore southpaw Brandon Bixler (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) in the finale. Earning CollegeBaseballInsider.com Southeast Region Pitcher of the Week, Bixler picked up his first career A-Sun Pitcher of the Week honor in addition to one of Louisville Slugger’s National Players of the Week for the second time this season. The Eagles intend to utilize the same rotation this weekend against the Bisons.

Coming off the complete-game win last Friday, Knapp heads into the series opener with a 6-4 (4-2 A-Sun) record and a 2.25 ERA through 11 appearances, including 10 starts. Recording back-to-back complete-game shutouts earlier this season in league action, the Port Charlotte, Fla. product has totaled 80.0 innings on the mound while accumulating 44 strikeouts and just 13 walks, keeping opposing hitters to a .233 mark at the plate. In league action, Knapp owns a 1.66 ERA which is good for second in the conference.

Despite the 12 strikeouts in last Saturday’s game against the Owls, Forjet was unable to get the offensive support to garner his first victory of the season. Sitting at 0-4 (0-1 A-Sun) on the year, the Pembroke Pines, Fla. has kept opponents to three runs or fewer in nine of his team-leading 11 starts. With seven no-decisions this year, Forjet holds a 3.15 ERA with a team-high 60 strikeouts in 68.2 innings of work. Holding the opposition to a .247 mark at the dish, Forjet also picked up his fifth career save with two scoreless innings in the 5-1 victory over No. 2 Florida State on April 4.

Earning a trio of weekly awards for his 14 punch out gem against KSU, Bixler will head to bump in the finale with a 3-4 (1-1 A-Sun) overall record. The hard-throwing southpaw has sat down 56 hitters in 46.2 innings of work while limiting the opponents to a team-best .153 average at the plate. Through his two starts in A-Sun action, Bixler has lowered his ERA to 2.38, totaling 17 strikeouts and keeping hitters to a .086 mark in 11.1 innings of work.

On the offensive side, sophomore Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) leads the Eagles at the plate with a .292 average, adding 25 runs scored and 21 RBI. Leading the team with 67 total bases and a .421 slugging percentage, sophomore Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS) holds a .277 mark at the dish with 18 runs scored and 30 RBI. Swiping a team-best eight stolen bases, senior Ryan Gebhart (Waco, Texas/Midway HS/Missouri) is hitting at a .274 clip with a team-highs 33 runs scored, 30 walks and a .407 on-base percentage, adding 13 RBI.

In league action, Dwyer leads the Green and Blue with a .295 average, driving in 13 RBI and scoring eight times with a team-high .492 slugging percentage. Through the 18 league games, Bednar is hitting .288 with 10 RBI and seven runs scored, while Gebhart is 3-for-5 in his stolen base attempts and leads the team with 17 runs and a .442 on-base percentage.

Lipscomb (20-24, 9-9 A-Sun) enters the set with the Eagles following a series victory over former A-Sun member Campbell last weekend in Nashville, Tenn. (L 5-2, W 6-2, W 10-4). The Bisons have earned A-Sun sweeps against Mercer and ETSU this season in addition to a series victory over Kennesaw State, all at Dugan Field. Three players are hitting over .300, with reigning A-Sun Player of the Week Aaron Sandoval leading the way with a .313 mark, adding 25 runs scored and 21 RBI. The Bisons have announced a rotation of senior right-hander Connor Sinclair (6-3, 3.04 ERA) on Friday, junior lefty Blake Fonfara (2-5, 4.72 ERA) on Saturday and redshirt junior righty Josh Cotham (3-4, 3.05 ERA) in the Sunday finale.

The Eagles hold a 9-3 edge in the all-time series between the schools, including an even 3-3 mark in Nashville. In league action, the Eagles hold an all-time record of 83-43.

Probable Starters
Friday, May 4 – 7 p.m. ET
FGCU – RHP Ricky Knapp, So. (6-4, 2.25 ERA, 80.0 IP, 44 K, 13 BB, .233 B/Avg.)
LIP – RHP Connor Sinclair, Sr. (6-3, 3.04 ERA, 71.0 IP, 55 K, 25 BB, .243 B/Avg.)

Saturday, May 5 – 7 p.m. ET
FGCU – RHP Jason Forjet, Sr. (0-4, 3.15 ERA, 68.2 IP, 60 K, 18 BB, .247 B/Avg.)
LIP – LHP Blake Fonfara, Jr. (2-5, 4.72 ERA, 47.2 IP, 45 K, 27 BB, .273 B/Avg.)

Sunday, May 6 – 12:30 p.m. ET
FGCU – LHP Brandon Bixler, So. (3-4, 4.24 ERA, 46.2 IP, 56 K, 36 BB, .153 B/Avg.)
LIP – RHP Josh Cotham, Jr. (3-4, 3.05 ERA, 56.0 IP, 51 K, 17 BB, .266 B/Avg.)

The two teams will continue the series with a 7 p.m. ET first pitch on Saturday and close the three-game set with a 12:30 p.m. ET start on Sunday. Live stats, in-game Twitter updates (@FGCUBaseball), results and recaps will be available at www.FGCUAthletics.com.