Top-Seeded Belmont Hands FGCU First Loss of A-Sun Tournament, 6-4
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|Win: DAVIS (8-1)||2.0||1||0||0||0||1|
|Loss: COONEY (4-3)||1.1||3||2||2||0||0|
Eagles move to elimination game with No. 3 Kennesaw State
DeLAND, Fla. – The fourth-seeded FGCU baseball team fought off a pair of two-run innings by Belmont in the fourth and fifth, but couldn’t fight off another in the seventh as the Eagles fell to the top-seeded Bruins, 6-4, on Friday night on Melching Field at Conrad Park for a chance to advance to the championship game of the Atlantic Sun Tournament.
Due to being the lone unbeaten team in the tournament entering tonight’s game, FGCU’s NCAA postseason dreams are still live, as the Green and Blue will return to the diamond on Saturday at 1 p.m. to face third-seeded Kennesaw State in an elimination game. FGCU defeated the Owls 12-4 to open the tournament on Wednesday.
With the win, Belmont will get a chance to defend its 2011 title against the winner of FGCU and Kennesaw State at 4:30 p.m. Both games on Saturday will be shown live on www.ESPN3.com with Paul Crane (P-B-P) and David Dellucci (Analyst) on the call.
FGCU took a 1-0 lead in the third, but two runs from the Bruins in the fourth and fifth inning, respectively, put the Eagles in a 4-1 hole. All four runs were charged to junior left-hander Andrew Polly (Broken Arrow, Okla./Union HS/Cowley County CC), who lasted 4.2 innings and gave up six hits with two walks and three strikeouts in his fifth start of the season.
The Eagles brushed off the back-to-back two-run innings by the Bruins with a three-run top of the sixth that knotted the score at 4-4. A double to left center field by sophomore Andrew Valencia (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep), who was the hero on Thursday night with his walk-off RBI single, put runners on second and third with one out. Freshman Brady Anderson (Arcadia, Fla./DeSoto County HS) then took the first pitch in the next at-bat down the right field line to bring in both runs to make it 4-3 as he moved all the way around for his second career triple. Just needing a sacrifice fly to bring in the speedy Anderson, junior Tito Mendoza (Miramar, Fla./Cooper City HS/Cowley County CC) notched his first hit of the tournament, and the fourth in a row for the Eagles, to even the score at 4-4.
Making his second relief appearance of the A-Sun Tournament, sophomore righty Harrison Cooney (Vero Beach, Fla./Vero Beach HS) helped FGCU escape the fifth with two runs given up and tossed a scoreless sixth before running into trouble in the seventh. The first two batters of the deciding-seventh frame reached base and Anderson was moved from left field to replace Cooney. After a nice play off the mound to catch a bunt attempt, Anderson issued a walk to load the bases and then gave up a two-run double to Jared Breen that provided the difference in the game at 6-4.
FGCU couldn’t fuel up another response to Belmont’s two-run inning, going down in order in the eighth and ninth for its first loss of the tournament.
Cooney (4-3) was pinned with the loss after going 1.1 innings and being credited with the two runs in the sixth. On the flipside, Belmont freshman left-hander Dan Ludwig gave up all four FGCU runs in his six innings, but received a no-decision. Right-hander Josh Davis (8-1) gave up just one hit in two scoreless frames to earn the win, while Scott Davis closed out his third save of the year in his 27th appearance.
For the first time in the tournament and just the second time in the last eight games, FGCU failed to reach double figure hits as it finished with eight. Sophomore Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS) led the way with a 2-for-4 night, good for his third straight multi-hit effort of the postseason. Sophomore Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) extended his hit streak to five games and also drove in his fifth RBI of the tournament, a program A-Sun postseason record.
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