Eagles Take Game One of Critical A-Sun Series with Stetson, 6-2
|Florida Gulf Coast||0||1||0||0||3||0||0||1||1||6||11||0|
|Win: KNAPP (8-4)||8.2||10||2||2||0||6|
|Loss: Caughel (7-3)||4.2||7||4||3||1||6|
DeLAND, Fla. – Following a three-hour weather delay, the FGCU baseball team was able to take game one of the crucial three-game Atlantic Sun weekend series with Stetson, 6-2, behind yet another solid outing from sophomore right-hander Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS) on Thursday evening in DeLand, Fla.
In the final A-Sun regular season series, the Eagles (22-29) picked up big win over the Hatters to improve their league mark to 13-12, and remain in a tie for sixth place in the league standings alongside Mercer, who also earned a game one win over USC Upstate, 7-6, in 14 innings on Thursday evening in Macon, Ga. The top six teams advance to the A-Sun Tournament in DeLand, Fla. (Stetson) on May 23-26, and the Bears hold the tie-breaker over the Eagles. Meanwhile, Stetson dropped to 34-19 and move into a share of second place in the A-Sun standings with Belmont at 15-10.
Providing yet another outstanding start while improving to 8-4, Knapp fanned six batters and allowed nine hits through his 8.2 innings of work. Although responsible for both runs in the contest, the Port Charlotte, Fla. product maintained his ERA of 2.12 this season, and now holds 58 strikeouts and a .243 opponent batting average through 106.1 innings of work.
The Eagles jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the second inning after junior Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary) reached on a throwing error by the shortstop. Later in the frame with two outs, freshman Brady Anderson (Arcadia, Fla./DeSoto County HS) roped an RBI double down the left field line to plate Reeves from first base.
Stetson would take a 2-1 lead in its side of the third, following a leadoff double and a two-out hit-by-pitch. With runners on first and second, Mark Jones connected for a two-RBI single into left field to give the Hatters the one-run lead.
In the visitor’s side of the fifth, the Green and Blue reestablished the lead at 4-2. Back-to-back singles from senior Ryan Gebhart (Waco, Texas/Midway HS/Missouri) and redshirt freshman Kirby Retzer (Boca Raton, Fla./Boca Raton HS) put runners on the corners for the Eagles. Sophomore Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS) then stepped to the dish and laced a single into centerfield to plate Gebhart. After a fly out moved Retzer to third, freshman Zack Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS) executed a sacrifice bunt down the first base line to score Retzer and move Dwyer to second base. With two outs in the inning and Dwyer on third following a wild pitch, junior Tito Mendoza (Miramar, Fla./Cooper City HS/Cowley CC) gave the Green and Blue the two-run edge with another RBI single up the middle.
The Eagles took a 5-2 lead in the top of the eighth, following a leadoff walk to Anderson and a sacrifice bunt from Gebhart. After moving to third on a wild pitch, Anderson came in to score when a strikeout pitch to Dwyer got passed the Stetson catcher.
FGCU plated an insurance run in their last chance at the dish. Mendoza was hit by a 1-0 pitch and was followed by a single down the right field line from Reeves to put runners on the corners. Sophomore Andrew Valencia (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) gave the Green and Blue the four-run cushion with a sacrifice fly into right field to make it 6-2, also extending his team-leading RBI total to 35.
Stetson would threaten in the bottom of the ninth following a leadoff single and a two-out single to place runners on first and second and force Knapp out of the game. Anderson then moved to the mound from left field and got the final batter swinging to secure the 6-2 victory for the Eagles.
The two teams will be back in action for a game two with heavy postseason implications on Friday beginning at 6:30 p.m. from Melching Field at Conrad Park. The series finale is set for a 2 p.m. start on Saturday afternoon.
Live stats, in-game Twitter updates (@FGCUBaseball), box scores, results and recaps will be available at www.FGCUAthletics.com.
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