GAME PREVIEW: No. 4 FGCU vs No. 3 Kennesaw St. - A-Sun Tournament Day Four
|Florida Gulf Coast||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||3||4||9||4|
|Win: Dean (4-1)||8.0||6||1||1||2||1|
|Loss: BIXLER (3-7)||3.1||3||7||5||7||6|
No. 4 FGCU (26-30, 15-12) vs. No. 3 Kennesaw State (33-24, 15-11)
ROUND: A-Sun Tournament (Day 4)
DATE: Saturday, May 26, 2012
CITY: DeLand, Fla.
SITE: Melching Field at Conrad Park (2500)
FIRST PITCH: 1:00 p.m. ET
LIVE VIDEO: www.ESPN3.com
TALENT: Paul Cane (P-B-P) & David Delluci (Analyst)
LIVE STATS: www.FGCUATHLETICS.com
LIVE CHAT: www.FGCUATHLETICS.com
A-SUN TWITTER: @atlanticsun/#ASUNBSB
VS. KENNESAW: FGCU leads, 12-4
LAST MEETING: FGCU 12, KSU 4 - May 23, 2012 (A-Sun Tournament)
WITH A WIN: vs. #1 Belmont (A-Sun Championship - 4:30 p.m.)
VS. BELMONT: FGCU leads, 10-6
HEAD COACH: Dave Tollett (10th Yr.)
OVERALL RECORD: 26-30
A-SUN RECORD: 15-12
CURRENT STREAK: L1
LAST 5 GAMES: 4-1
LAST 10 GAMES: 7-3
PROBABLE STARTER: Brandon Bixler, So., LHP, 3-6, 5.50 ERA
#3 KENNESAW STATE
HEAD COACH: Mike Sansing (21st Yr.)
OVERALL RECORD: 33-24
A-SUN RECORD: 15-11
CURRENT STREAK: W2
LAST 5 GAMES: 3-2
LAST 10 GAMES: 5-5
PROBABLE STARTER: Travis Dean, RHP, 3-1, 7.45 ERA
AT A GLANCE
Despite suffering its first loss of the 2012 Atlantic Sun Tournament against No. 1 Belmont, No.4 FGCU’s conference title and NCAA postseason hopes are still alive due to being the only unbeaten team left in the tournament heading into Friday night. The Eagles will take Melching Field at Conrad Park on Saturday at 1 p.m. for an elimination game against No. 3 Kennesaw State on www.ESPN3.com. The winner will advance to the championship game against the defending A-Sun Tournament champion Bruins in a single contest for the conference crown and automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. FGCU and Kennesaw State met on the first day of the A-Sun Tournament, as the Eagles scored a season-high 12 runs, highlighted by a six-run sixth inning, to move into the winner’s bracket with a 12-4 triumph. FGCU is 3-3 all-time in the A-Sun Tournament and is seeking a spot in its first championship game in just its second postseason appearance.
BIX OR BUST
Leading the A-Sun with a .160 opponent batting average, sophomore left-hander BRANDON BIXLER has had his fair share of ups and downs this season. Holding a 3-6 record and a 5.50 ERA, the Oviedo, Fla. product sits second on the team with 64 strikeouts through just 55.2 innings of work to rank 29th in the nation in punch outs per nine innings (10.34), but has also issued a team-high 52 walks. In a 8.2 inning one-hitter against Bryant (Feb. 26) which featured 12 strikeouts, Bixler scattered three walks and racked up 12 strikeouts to earn one of Louisville Slugger National Players of the Week honors. Ironically, in the series finale with Kennesaw State (April 29), the southpaw went seven strong innings of one-hit baseball, issuing just one walk and totaling 14 punch outs. His strikeout total was just one away from 2010 Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Year and current Chicago White Sox lefty CHRIS SALE’S single-game FGCU record of 15. For his performance, Bixler earned his second weekly honor from Louisville Slugger, as well as, the A-Sun Pitcher of the Week and CollegeBaseballInsider.com Southeast Pitcher of the Week honors.
SIZING UP THE FIELD
Despite needing a conference sweep of Stetson in the final weekend of the regular season, FGCU entered the A-Sun Tournament with the best record against the postseason field at 10-5. The Eagles got the better of three of the teams during their three-game sets, highlighted by sweeps of first round opponent Kennesaw State and Stetson. Below is a look at how the A-Sun Tournament field stacks up against one another in the regular season.
FGCU (#4) ................ 10-5
Mercer (#5) ................ 9-6
Belmont (#1) .............. 8-7
Kennesaw State (#3) ... 7-7
USC Upstate (#2) ....... 5-9
Stetson (#6) ............. 5-10
Sitting three games under .500 (6-9) in the A-Sun with four weekends of action remaining, FGCU saved its best ball of the season for the final month, going 9-3 in league play to close out the regular season slate. The three FGCU series wins over the last four weekends came against three teams in the A-Sun Tournament field (Kennesaw State, Belmont, Stetson). Six of the 12 games were decided by one run or less, as the Eagles went 5-1 over those contests. Seven different players hit .300 or better over the 12 games, while the pitching staff combined for a solid 3.05 ERA.
THE THREE AMIGOS
Out of FGCU’s 32 hits in the A-Sun Tournament, 18 have come from the trio of senior RYAN GEBHART and sophomores BRANDON BEDNAR and SEAN DWYER. The trio has reached base a combined 27 times over the three games, scoring all four runs in Thursday’s win over Mercer and nine total. Gebhart has scored a team A-Sun Tournament record five times, while Bednar and Dwyer have equaled the record with seven hits each. Bednar has also set a new A-Sun Tournament team record with five RBI driving in a run each game.
A-SUN & FGCU IN RPI TOP 100
On top of having its top six teams in the conference regular season standings separated by just two games, the Atlantic Sun also boasts six teams in the top 100 of the latest WarrenNolan.com RPI Ratings (May 25). FGCU’s sweep at Stetson, who entered the weekend at No. 39, and pair of A-Sun Tournament wins over Kennesaw State and Mercer have moved the Eagles to No. 89 on the list and jumped their schedule strength to No. 36. Out of FGCU’s 26 wins on the season, 16 have come against teams in the top 100, including victories at No. 1 FSU and No. 14 Miami.
TALE OF TWO SEASONS
A 15th round selection by the San Diego Padres in the 2010 MLB Draft coming out of Tavares High School, sophomore SEAN DWYER has overcome a slow start to his second season in the Green and Blue with a torrid run over the last month and a half. Dwyer is batting over 100 points higher since April 1st (.346), with 37 hits, including 12 doubles, over the 29-game span. The in-state product leads the team in extra-base hits (20), doubles (15), triples (2), slugging percentage (.430) and total bases (89).
JACK OF ALL TRADES
After producing just nine double-digit hit games in its first 48 contests of the season, FGCU has now accomplished the feat in six of its last seven outings, starting with the final two games against Belmont. The Eagles are averaging 11.6 hits over the seven games, highlighted by a season-high 16 hits in the series finale against A-Sun regular season champ Belmont. Over the last seven games in which the team his hitting .327, sophomore BRANDON BEDNAR is hitting a torrid .464 (13-28), while four other players are above the .300 mark.
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