FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Florida Gulf Coast University baseball team defeated Palm Beach Atlantic 6-5 Friday night at Swanson Stadium on a walk-off RBI double by pinch hitter Derek Mollica in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Mollica (Boca Raton, Fla.) laced a 3-2 pitch from PBA reliever Tristan Miceli to the fence in right-center field to score senior Ian Manson (Plano, Texas) from second base. Manson had led off the inning with a double to left-center. FGCU (9-3) won for the sixth time in seven outings. Palm Beach Atlantic falls to 2-12.
The Eagles had trailed 5-4 in the bottom of the eighth inning when sophomore Mike Cleghorn (Jacksonville, Fla.) laced a key, two-out, two-run double to plate junior Travis Cunningham (Coral Springs, Fla.) and freshman Pat Garrido (West Palm Beach, Fla.) to tie the game heading into the ninth.
The Eagles took an early 2-0 lead in the third on RBI singles by junior Robby Rotunno (Sanford, Fla.) and junior Geoff Rottmayer (Clearwater, Fla.). The Sailfish made it 2-1 in the sixth on an RBI double by Shelton Stevens. The Eagles added a run in the seventh on a Rottmayer’ RBI single for a 3-1 lead.
PBA rallied to take a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the eighth after scoring four runs on four hits and an error off the Eagles bullpen in the top off the inning.
Manson went 4-for-5 while Rottmayer went 3-for-3 to key a 14-hit attack for the Eagles, matching their single-game season best. Rotunno added a pair of hits for FGCU. Five Sailfish had two hits each, including Shelton, who added two RBI.
Junior right-hander Matt Laliberte (New Port Richey, Fla.) picked up his first win in relief with a scoreless ninth inning. Starter Chris Hassen (Port Charlotte, Fla.) allowed one run while scattering seven hits through the first 5 2/3. Miceli took the loss for PBA.
The two teams conclude their weekend series with a double-header tomorrow afternoon at Swanson Stadium. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.