Eagles to Close Regular Season with Four at Swanson Starting with USF on Tuesday
Monday, May 13, 2013 | by Caleb Baker
Vaughn Wilson Photo
Vaughn Wilson Photo
USF (33-19)
FGCU (34-18)
5/14/2013 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 223
Win: PUIG (4-0) 0.100000
Loss: BROWN (2-2) 3.022212
NORTON (USF) 403110
BEDNAR (FGCU) 402000

FORT MYERS, Fla. – As the 2013 season draws closer to completion, the FGCU baseball team is set to finish the final games of the regular season slate in a four-game homestand at Swanson Stadium, beginning with a midweek non-conference meeting with BIG EAST foe USF on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

Winning 12 of its last 13 games, FGCU heads into the single-game meeting holding a 34-17 (16-8 A-Sun) overall record, which includes a 19-8 mark at Swanson Stadium. Currently on a three-game skid after a trio of BIG EAST losses at Seton Hall, the Bulls travel to Fort Myers with a 32-19 (15-6 BIG EAST) mark. With victories in the last five meetings, the Eagles hold a convincing 6-1 lead in the all-time series between the two programs.

Moving into a share of second place in the A-Sun standings last weekend, the Eagles claimed the league road series victory at North Florida, who entered the weekend as a co-leader in the standings. FGCU fell in the opener of the set in 11 innings, 8-7, before recording back-to-back wins to earn the series victory, 7-5, 10-7.

The Eagles are going to go with junior left-hander Brandon Bixler (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) to begin the night. Through 11 appearances, including 10 starts, and 48.1 innings of work, Bixler holds a 5-3 record and a 3.91 ERA. The Oviedo, Fla. native sits second on the team with 63 strikeouts and holds a sterling .188 opponent batting average at the dish which leads the squad. Opening game one of the doubleheader against FAMU (May 8) last week, Bixler earned the win after allowing three runs (two earned) on three hits and a walk while striking out eight of the 23 batters faced.

At the plate, the Eagles are hitting a combined .298 this season with a .411 slugging percentage and a .386 on-base percentage. Over the last 10 games, the Green and Blue have upped their mark to .349 at the plate with 93 runs scored and 81 RBI, holding a .523 slugging percentage and a .436 on-base average.

Four Eagles are hitting above .300 on the year, led by junior infielder Brandon Bednar’s (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) .344 mark. The third-year player leads the Green and Blue in multiple categories, including runs scored (48), RBI (45), doubles (16), extra-base hits (20), total bases (101) and stolen bases (7-for-9).

Senior catcher Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary) is connecting at a .344 rate with a team-best .429 on-base percentage, adding 24 RBI and scoring 42 times to sit second on the team. Redshirt senior Brooks Beisner (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS/Auburn) and junior Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS) are each hitting .310 this season with five and six home runs, respectively, and sophomore Michael Suchy (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast HS) rounds out the crew over the .300 mark with a .302 average.

Named the A-Sun Player of the Week on Monday, Dwyer hit .455 (10-for-22) with three walks over the five road games last week at FAMU (May 8) and UNF (May 10-12), bringing in five RBI and recording team-highs of eight runs scored and three home runs. Also leading the team with a .864 slugging percentage, the Tavares, Fla. product reached base at a .520 rate in those contests.

The contest will mark the second in the home-and-home series between the two sides this season. With the help of 13 hits and 13 walks, the Eagles pushed across 13 runs to take down the Bulls, 13-5, on the road in Tampa, Fla. on March 26.

Ranking as high as No. 20 in the Collegiate Baseball poll last week, USF dropped out of the rankings in the most recent national releases following the three losses at Seton Hall. Prior to last weekend’s series with the Pirates, the Bulls had been on a streak in which they had won 18 of 20 contests, with the two blemishes coming on the road at then-No. 20 Florida (April 23) and at Notre Dame (May 4) in conference play.

USF is hitting .279 as a team and holds a combined 3.63 ERA. Junior outfielder James Ramsay has a .330 average with 31 runs scored and 36 RBI, leading the team with a .447 slugging percentage. Senior Jimmy Falla sits atop the team ranks with 34 runs scored and 43 RBI, while maintaining a .312 average at the plate.

The Bulls intend to use sophomore right-hander Mike Clarkson (1-5, 3.98 ERA) to start the game. Clarkson was also the starter for USF in the meeting between the schools earlier this season, as he was issued the loss after going 4.1 innings and allowing four runs on five hits and five walks while striking out a pair.

Probable Starters
USF - RHP Mike Clarkson, So. (1-5, 10 GP/9 GS, 3.98 ERA, 43.0 IP, 19 K, 17 BB, .238 B/Avg.)
FGCU - LHP Brandon Bixler, Jr. (5-3, 11 APP/10 GS, 3.91 ERA, 48.1 IP, 63 K, 36 BB, .188 B/Avg.)

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