No. 24 FGCU Baseball Drops Friday Opener with Mercer
|Win: RANDALL (1-0)||5.1||6||4||4||1||3|
|Loss: KNAPP (6-2)||4.2||7||6||5||4||5|
MACON, Ga. – As Atlantic Sun Conference baseball action resumed on Friday evening in Macon, Ga., an early two-run lead wasn’t enough for No. 24 FGCU, as it dropped the opener of the three-game series with Mercer, 7-6, in a battle of league co-favorites.
Entering the weekend in a share atop the league standings, the Eagles record dropped to 20-10 while moving to 6-4 in A-Sun play. Meanwhile, the second-place Bears record climbed to 27-10 overall, including an 8-5 mark in league action. The two teams are set to return to the field on Saturday for a 2 p.m. first pitch, before closing the series with a 1 p.m. start on Sunday.
The Eagles wasted no time, putting up two runs in the first inning, all coming with two outs. Freshman Tyler Selesky (Estero, Fla./Estero HS) began the game with a lead-off walk followed by a sacrifice bunt by senior Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary) to move Selesky to second. Later in the inning with two away, junior Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South fork HS) doubled down the left field line, barely skipping over the third base bag to plate Selesky. With Bednar on second, redshirt senior Brooks Beisner (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS/Auburn) delivered a single to center to score Bednar for the early 2-0 advantage.
The Bears got a run back in the bottom half of the second, courtesy of an FGCU error. With two outs, Evan Boyd doubled to left center, and came around to score on a fly ball to center by Joe Koehler that was misplayed in the outfield to cut the lead to 2-1.
FGCU added two more in the top of the third with key hits from the top of the order. Selesky started the inning with a single to left and moved to second on a ground out by Reeves. Junior Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS) then singled to left center to plate Selesky, before scoring all the way from first on Bednar’s second double of the day, giving the Eagles a 4-1 edge.
Mercer got the two runs right back in the home half of the third with a two-run homerun over the left field wall from designated hitter Nick Backlund.
The Bears took the lead in the bottom of the fourth with two runs. David Reid-Foley and Boyd reached base with a walk and hit by pitch, respectively. Both runners moved into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, setting up Derrick Workman, who delivered a double into the right field corner to plate two runs and help Mercer take a 5-4 lead.
Mercer added an insurance run in the fifth with three straight hits by Reid-Foley, Boyd and Koehler to take a 6-4 advantage over the Green and Blue.
FGCU earned one run back in the top half of the sixth to cut the lead to 6-5. Bednar reached base on a hit by pitch and later scored a triple to left field by freshman Nick Rivera (Cape Coral, Fla./Bishop Verot HS).
The Bears later took a 7-5 lead with a run in the home half of the sixth on three straight hits by Workman, Backlund and Austin Barrett.
The Eagles tried to rally in the ninth starting with a solo shot to left with one out by Rivera to make it a 7-6 ballgame. The one-run lead would prove to be enough for Mercer as the following two batters struck out to end the opening contest in the three-game series.
Hit with the loss in the contest, junior right-hander Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS) (6-2) went 4.2 innings, allowing six runs (five earned) on seven hits and four walks while recording five strikeouts.
FGCU scored six runs on eight hits and one Mercer error. The Eagles were led offensively by Bedar’s 2-for-3 day which included two doubles, a hit-by-pitch, two RBI and two runs scored. Rivera added a 2-for-4 game with a home run, a triple, two RBI and a run scored. Selesky (1-for-2) scored twice, while Dwyer added a run of his own and a RBI in a 1-for-4 night.
Mercer plated seven runs on 10 hits and one FGCU error. Starting the game on the mound for the Bears, senior lefty David Randall (1-0) went 5.1 innings and allowed four runs on six hits and one walk, while striking out three.
The two squads will be back in action on Saturday afternoon beginning at 2 p.m. The contest, as well as the Sunday afternoon finale, can be viewed lived at www.ASun.TV.
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