Knapp’s Strong Start Leads FGCU to 8-0 Shutout of Stetson on Thursday Night
|Win: KNAPP (9-2)||7.0||3||0||0||0||6|
|Loss: Josh Powers (1-7)||6.0||10||8||7||0||1|
|Konner Lutz (STET)||4||0||2||0||0||0|
FORT MYERS, Fla. – As the final Atlantic Sun Conference regular season series got underway on Thursday night at Swanson Stadium, the FGCU baseball team used seven stellar innings of work from junior right-hander Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS) and some strong offense, including a grand slam from sophomore Michael Suchy (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast HS), to shutout rival Stetson, 8-0.
FGCU improved to 35-18 on the year as its record in A-Sun play moved to 17-8 with the series opening victory. Stetson now sits at 26-27 on the campaign, a mark which includes a 15-10 record in A-Sun action.
“We got a great start from Ricky Knapp here on Thursday night, allowing only three hits and getting six strikeouts,” said head coach Dave Tollett. “For a stretch there, he retired 14 or 15 in a row and I couldn’t be more pleased with the effort he gave us this evening. Suchy came through with a big grand slam too, helping extend the lead and, for the most part, I felt we played well defensively. Stetson is a very solid team and we are all still fighting for positions in the A-Sun tournament, so getting the win tonight was a good start to the weekend, but we must come out tomorrow and continue our efforts.”
Retiring a stretch of 15 batters from the end of the second inning through the start of the seventh, Knapp’s seven frames saw just three hits by the opposition, as he issued no walks and recorded six strikeouts to improve to 9-2 on the year. For the season, the third-year hurler now sits with a 2.02 ERA in 93.2 innings, with a .232 opponent average and an even 70 strikeouts which leads the team.
The Eagles pushed one run across in their opening chance on the night. Senior Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontatio/St. Peter’s Secondary) sent a tailing double down the left field line and was followed with a hit-by-pitch to sophomore Michael Suchy (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast HS). After a fly ball to center from junior Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) moved Reeves to third, junior Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS) gave the Green and Blue a 1-0 lead with a sacrifice fly to left center.
A blast over the left field wall in the fourth inning off the bat of redshirt senior Brooks Beisner (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS/Auburn) gave the Green and Blue a 2-0 edge. It was the sixth home run of the year for the Punta Gorda, Fla. product, as it accounted for his 40th RBI and 34th run scored this season. The Green and Blue continued with two more runs in the inning when freshman Nick Rivera (Cape Coral, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) reached on an error and sophomore Zack Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS) sent a single to right field, setting up freshman Colton Bottomley’s (Davie, Fla./Marjorie Stoneman Douglas) bases-clearing double down the left field line for the 4-0 advantage.
The lead doubled in the bottom of the sixth with one swing of the bat by Suchy. Tillery got the inning going with his third hit in the game and was matched by back-to-back singles from Bottomley and redshirt sophomore Alex Diaz (Miami, Fla./Ferguson HS) in the next two at-bats to load the bases. With a towering drive to left field, Suchy brought all the base runners in for the 8-0 score on the first grand slam of the season for the Green and Blue. The longball puts the Bradenton, Fla. native in a share of the team lead with eight, as he now has 33 runs scored and sits second on the team with 42 RBI.
Following the departure of Knapp, redshirt freshman Clint Knoblauch (Wellington, Fla./Wellington HS) finished the final 2.0 innings, surrendering one walk and one hit against eight batters faced.
FGCU scored eight runs on 11 hits and one Stetson error, with Suchy leading the charge with a 2-for-3 game that featured the grand slam for four RBI and one run scored. Tillery also provided a 3-for-4 game with two runs scored, while Bottomley went 2-for-3 with a double, two RBI and a run scored.
Stetson was unable to plate a run while collecting just four hits in the game. Starting the night for the Hatters, sophomore right-hander Josh Powers (1-7) was dealt the loss after six innings, allowing eight runs (seven earned) on 10 hits with one strikeout.
With the top three teams all winning on Thursday evening, there was no movement at the top of the league standings as Mercer (40-14, 18-7 A-Sun) continues to hold the top spot while North Florida (37-16) and FGCU sit a game back in a share of second place. The Bears defeated Northern Kentucky, 7-4, and UNF took down USC Upstate, 15-5, in the openers of their respective sets. Entering the game in sole possession of fourth place, the Hatters slid into a share of the spot with ETSU in the losing effort, due to Bucs (30-22, 15-10 A-Sun) winning their opening contest at home against Jacksonville, 3-2.
Game two of the final A-Sun series is set to commence on Friday at 6:30 p.m. from Swanson Stadium. The Eagles are prepared to go with freshman right-hander Michael Murray (West Palm Beach, Fla./Forest Hill HS) (5-1, 2.92 ERA) against Stetson junior left-hander Austin Perez (7-1, 2.52 ERA).
Friday, May 17 – 6:30 p.m.
FGCU – RHP Michael Murray, Fr. (5-1, 13 APP/12 GS, 2.92 ERA, 77.0 IP, 50 K, 16 BB, .251 B/Avg.)
STET – LHP Austin Perez, Jr. (7-1, 13 APP/11 GS, 2.52 ERA, 78.2 IP, 59 K, 24 BB, .242 B/Avg.)
Saturday, May 18 – 1 p.m.
FGCU – RHP Harrison Cooney, Jr. (5-5, 19 APP/3 GS, 3.12 ERA, 57.2 IP, 53 K, 26 BB, .235 B/Avg.)
STET – RHP Chad Rood, Sr. (0-3, 14 APP/8 GS, 6.14 ERA, 36.2 IP, 19 K, 13 BB, .315 B/Avg.)
or LHP Adam Schaly, Fr. (2-3, 17 APP/9 GS, 5.44 ERA, 46.1 IP, 30 K, 29 BB, .303 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.
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