4/4/2014 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 322
WP | Mike Murray (7-0): 9.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 SO
LP | Jordan Hillyer (2-3): 8.0 IP, 13 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO
BOX SCORE (PDF)
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Mike Murray took the mound for the FGCU baseball team (20-11, 6-1 A-Sun) on Friday night against one of the nation’s top hitting teams in Kennesaw State (14-19, 2-8 A-Sun) and continued to show why he is one of the top hurlers in the nation as he worked his second-consecutive complete game, this time in shutout fashion, allowed just four hits, struck out four, walked none and picked up his seventh straight win, 5-0.
“Murray is having a special season for us,” head coach Dave Tollett added. “It’s so huge to have a guy like that who just goes out and puts a team on his shoulders for a night. He has done nothing but impress and sooner or later the nation is going to start to take notice.”
Murray (West Palm Beach, Fla./Forrest Hill HS) is just the second pitcher in FGCU history to throw back-to-back complete games. Ricky Knapp did so in March of 2012 when he went the distance against North Florida and East Tennessee State in consecutive outings. The sophomore has lowered his A-Sun best ERA to a miniscule 0.43 which isn’t even the lowest that it has been this season. During his streak of 43.1 innings without allowing an earned run that was snapped last week at Stetson, Murray’s ERA dropped as low as 0.18 at one point. His 57 strikeouts also lead the league and have already surpassed his 2013 total of 54.
Offensively on Friday, the Eagles would collect 13 hits with a pair of players accounting for three each. Zack Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS) and Gage Morey (West Palm Beach, Fla./PB Central) each drove in two runs. Jake Noll (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS) would steal his 17th bag of the season, this one coming off preseason All-American catcher Max Pentecost, inching him closer to the FGCU single-season record of 20.
Kennesaw State came into Friday night’s game with the seventh most hits in the nation with 322. Murray would work a clean first and turn things over to the Eagle bats who jumped on Kennesaw State starter Jordan Hillyer quickly. Noll, who would finish 3-5 on the evening, led off by bouncing a ball to short and diving into the first for an infield single. Colton Bottomley (Davie, Fla./Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS) followed with a walk and with one away, Tillery laced a double down the left-field line to drive in both runners and give the Green and Blue an early 2-0 lead.
With a runner on first in the bottom of the third, Tillery bounced into a would-be double play but beat out the throw coming back from second to put a runner on first with one out for Nick Rivera (Cape Coral, Fla.) who doubled, moving Tillery over to third. Now with two runners in scoring position, Morey ripped a single to center, driving in two to give FGCU a 4-0 lead. The Eagles were not done there however as Morey stole second and Andrew Valencia (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep), who also picked up three hits Friday night, singled to give Tyler Selesky (Estero, Fla./Estero HS) an RBI opportunity. He would deliver a sacrifice fly to center to drive in Morey and push the lead to 5-0 through three.
That was all the run support that the Eagle Ace would need as he clamped down on the potent Kennesaw State offense the rest of the way. Murray would give up just two hits over the first eight innings and in the ninth, with less than 100 pitches to his credit still, he would give up two more. With runners on second and third and two down, Murray induced a ground ball to second to end the ball game.
The Eagles are 6-1 in A-Sun play for the first time since the 2009 season and have outscored their opponents 55-28 during this stretch. The Green and Blue would finish that year with a 23-7 mark in A-Sun play and the Regular Season Conference Championship. FGCU now leads the all-time series with KSU 15-7.
The Green and Blue return to the field tomorrow for a 2 p.m. start against the Owls at Swanson Stadium. Nick Deckert (Tallahassee, Fla./Tallahassee CC) will take the mound in search of his fifth victory. He currently rests fourth in the A-Sun with a 2.74 ERA and second, behind Murray, with 45 strikeouts.
ATLANTIC SUN CHAMPIONSHIP
For the first time in program history, the FGCU baseball team will play host to the 2014 Atlantic Sun Baseball Championship set to take place May 21-25 at Swanson Stadium. The top eight teams in the standings at the end of the regular season will advance to the championship and compete in a double-elimination style tournament to determine the A-Sun’s automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament. The Eagles are three-time A-Sun Regular Season Champions and finished second in the league last season.
Single-game tickets for FGCU Baseball are available at a cost of $6 for adults and $3 for children. Season tickets and tickets to the 2014 Atlantic Sun Championship are also available. For more information and additional deals, visit FGCUathletics.com/tickets, or call the ticket office at 239-590-7145.