Northern Kentucky Heads South for First Ever A-Sun Meeting with FGCU Baseball
Thursday, April 25, 2013 | by Caleb Baker
Photo by Dennis Snyder
Photo by Dennis Snyder
Northern Kentucky (8-33, 3-13 A-Sun)
FGCU (23-16, 9-7 A-Sun)
4/26/2013 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 189
Northern Kentucky000010000151
Win: KNAPP (7-2) 8.0511312
Loss: HARRIS (1-4) 3.263343
ASMAN (NKU) 401000
CLEMENT (NKU) 201020
MYERS (NKU) 401000
SPURLIN (NKU) 311111
HYDE (NKU) 401000

FORT MYERS, Fla. – In its first season of Division I after joining the Atlantic Sun Conference this season, Northern Kentucky will make the trip south to Fort Myers, Fla. to face the FGCU baseball team in a three-game league set, beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Swanson Stadium.

Closing out an eight-game homestand, the Eagles head into the weekend with a 22-16 record that includes an 8-7 mark in the A-Sun, to sit in a share of fourth in the league standings. In its first season of the four-year transitional period, the Norse hold an 8-32 overall record and sit at 3-12 in the A-Sun this year.

Most recently, FGCU dropped a pair of mid-week games with Bethune-Cookman at Swanson Stadium. The Wildcats opened the two-game set with a 7-5 win on Tuesday before using 10 innings on Wednesday to secure an 8-7 victory.

Last weekend in A-Sun action at Swanson Stadium, the Eagles earned a series victory over USC Upstate. The Green and Blue opened the series with a 3-2 win in 10 innings on Friday before needing 11 innings on Saturday to earn another 3-2 victory. The Spartans prevented the weekend sweep by recording a 17-9 win on Sunday afternoon.

The Eagles will send junior right-hander Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS) to the mound on Friday to begin the weekend festivities with a 6-2 record. The Port Charlotte, Fla. native ranks third in the league with a 1.93 ERA and also fourth with a .225 opponent batting average. Also among the league’s best in 10 other statistical categories including innings pitched (65.1, T5th), batters struck out (47, T6th), runs allowed (18, T4th) and wins (6, T4th), Knapp earned a no-decision in his last outing against USC Upstate (April 19) after allowing two runs on six hits over eight innings with five strikeouts in a 123-pitch performance.

Taking the game ball to open the Saturday affair with a 4-1 mark, freshman right-hander Michael Murray (West Palm Beach, Fla./Forest Hill HS) has established the eighth best ERA in the A-Sun at 2.78 and has limited opponents to a .260 mark at the plate. Also among the top 10 in the A-Sun in five other categories, the first-year arm earned the no-decision in his last start against USC Upstate (April 20) after tossing six innings, allowing just one run on seven hits and one walk, retiring eight of the 26 batters he faced by strikeout.

FGCU has not announced a starter for the Sunday afternoon finale.

Leading the Eagles at the plate with a .347 batting average, senior catcher Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary) has been producing in the two hole, scoring 28 runs and plating 16 RBI while holding the sixth-best on-base percentage (.428) in the A-Sun. Reeves also tops the A-Sun with 14 sacrifice bunts, and last weekend against USC Upstate he batted .600 (9-for-15) over the three games, recording a triple, two RBI and four runs scored while leading the team with a .625 on-base and .733 slugging percentage.

A true utility player for the Green and Blue, junior Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) is not far off Reeves, hitting .343 this season with team-highs of 34 runs scored, 36 RBI (T7th A-Sun), 16 extra-base hits, a .470 slugging percentage and five stolen bases. Over the three-game series with USC Upstate last weekend, Bednar hit .313 (5-for-16) with one double, driving in a team-best five RBI and scoring once.

Sophomore outfielder Michael Suchy (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast HS) has upped his batting average to .299 as of late, padding his numbers by hitting .778 (7-for-9) with a .778 slugging and .800 on-base percentage with three RBI and a run scored over the pair of mid-week games with B-CU. Suchy sits second on the team with four home runs, four stolen bases and 27 RBI, adding 16 runs scored this season for the Eagles.

FGCU holds an all-time record of 112-53 in its six seasons in the A-Sun.

The Norse head to Fort Myers after taking two of three last weekend against Jacksonville (L 4-1, W 4-3, W 5-2) in A-Sun play in Highland Heights, Ky. In their most recent outing on Wednesday at Butler, the Bulldogs earned a 2-3 victory over NKU.

Senior infielder Brad Clement is hitting at a .316 clip to lead the Norse, supplying 16 runs scored and a team-high 20 RBI. NKU is hitting a collective .225 with a .287 slugging and .318 on-base percentage.

NKU has announced a rotation of freshman right-hander Aric Harris (1-3, 5.08 ERA) on Friday, followed by junior lefty Matt Jefferson (1-6, 4.50 ERA) and senior righty Blake Bagshaw (1-7, 6.99 ERA) on Saturday and Sunday respectively. 

FGCU Probable Starters
Fri. – RHP Ricky Knapp, Jr. (6-2, 9 GP/9 GS, 1.93 ERA, 65.1 IP, 47 K, 11 BB, .225 B/Avg.)
Sat. – RHP Michael Murray, Fr. (4-1, 10 GP/9 GS, 2.78 ERA, 58.1 IP, 33 K, 10 BB, .26- B/Avg.)
Sun. - TBA

NKU Probable Starters
Fri. – RHP Aric Harris, Fr. (1-3, 10 GP/6 GS, 5.08 ERA, 33.2 IP, 20 K, 18 BB, .278 B/Avg.)
Sat. – LHP Matt Jefferson, Jr. (1-6, 10 GP/10 GS, 4.50 ERA, 62.0 IP, 38 K, 22 BB, .346 B/Avg.)
Sun. – RHP Blake Bagshaw, Sr. (1-7, 10 GP/10 GS, 6.99 ERA, 47.2 IP, 22 K, 10 BB, .314 B/Avg.)

Live stats, in-game Twitter updates (@FGCU_Baseball), box score results and recaps will be available at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com for each contest in the series. Tickets for all home contests are available online at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com/tickets or by calling the FGCU ticket office at 239-590-7145.