3/8/2013 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 265
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Trailing by two runs through the opening four frames, the No. 23 FGCU baseball team plated five runs through the fifth and sixth innings combined, to take the series opening contest against Western Michigan, 5-2, on Friday evening at Swanson Stadium.
Picking up their fourth-straight win, the Eagles record moved to 11-3 on the year while the Broncos dropped to 3-11 this season.
“It was nice to come out tonight and get a win to begin the series,” said head coach Dave Tollett. “We started off a little slow but I was pleased with the guys, they came together later in the game to tie it up and eventually take the lead. We were able to take advantage of some fortunate opportunities and were able to come away with the win.”
Taking the mound to begin the game for the Eagles, junior right-hander Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS) (4-0) went eight strong innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on nine hits and no walks with six strikeouts in his fourth win of the year. Following the 107-pitch outing, the Port Charlotte, Fla. product now holds a 0.87 ERA and an opponent average of .185 on the season, with team-highs of 22 strikeouts and 31 innings pitch while also allowing a team-low two walks.
WMU opened the game with back-to-back one-run innings to take an early 2-0 lead. With two outs and runners on the corners in the first, a single into center field from sophomore Jared Kujawa gave the Broncos the first strike in the contest. The lead would double in the second, when a fielding error allowed WMU’s Hunter Prince to come across to score from second base.
The Broncos’ lead held until the Eagles leveled the game in the bottom of the fifth. After getting the inning going with a one-out hit-by-pitch, redshirt sophomore Alex Diaz (Miami, Fla./Ferguson HS) moved to second on a grounder to first base. Junior Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary) cut the lead in half with a hit through the left side, and moved to second on a throwing error on the play at the plate. Reeves then moved to third on a wild pitch and come across to score on the same play, courtesy of an errant throw to third base by the catcher.
FGCU took a three-run lead in its chance in the sixth, following a walk by freshman Nick Rivera (Cape Coral, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) to begin the frame. The Eagles held runners on the corners with one away, when a throwing error on the force at second during sophomore Zack Tillery’s (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS) fielder’s choice allowed Rivera to move to third. Senior Dane Wisneski (Jupiter, Fla./Palm Beach Gardens HS/Daytona State) laid down a bunt single to second base which scored Rivera and moved runners to first and second. After Diaz advanced both runners on a sacrifice bunt, junior Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) gave the Green and Blue a 5-2 lead with a base-clearing standup triple into the right center ally.
Entering in the ninth, junior right-hander Harrison Cooney (Vero Beach, Fla./Vero Beach HS) finished off the final inning for his first save of the season, facing the minimum and ending the game on a strikeout.
FGCU scored five runs on eight hits and four WMU errors. Bednar finished the game 2-for-5 with a pair of RBI, and Wisneski hit 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored. Reeves also supplied one RBI and one run scored in a 1-for-4 game, while Tillery and Rivera accounted for the other two runs scored.
The Broncos scored two runs on nine hits and one FGCU error. WMU starting right-hander Steve Laudicina dropped to 0-4 after allowing five runs (one earned) on six hits and four walks, adding three strikeouts in six innings of work.
The two squads return for game two of the three-game set on Saturday, beginning at 2 p.m. at Swanson Stadium. The Eagles are set to send freshman right-hander Michael Murray (West Palm Beach, Fla./Forest Hill HS) (2-0, 1.56 ERA) to the mound against WMU lefty Mike Moyer (2-1, 1.56 ERA).
Tickets for all home contests are available online at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com/tickets or by calling the FGCU ticket office at 239-590-7145.
Saturday, Mar. 9 – 2 p.m.
FGCU – RHP Michael Murray, Fr. (2-0, 1.56 ERA, 17.1 IP, 8 K, 3 BB, .219 B/Avg.)
WMU – LHP Mike Moyer, R-Sr. (2-1, 1.56 ERA, 17.1 IP, 11 K, 6 BB, .167 B/Avg.)
Sunday, Mar. 10 – 1 p.m.
FGCU – RHP Zack Tillery, So. (1-1, 3.07 ERA, 14.2 IP, 7 K, 7 BB, .259 B/Avg.)
WMU – RHP Will Nimke, So. (0-2, 12.46 ERA, 8.2 IP, 5 K, 6 BB, .390 B/Avg.)
Fans can get updates and information on FGCU baseball all season long by visiting http://www.FGCUATHLETICS.com or by following the team on twitter @FGCU_Baseball.