Baseball Loses Heartbreaker to No. 20 Florida Southern
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Florida Gulf Coast University baseball team lost a heartbreaker to Florida Southern College on Friday at Swanson Stadium 6-5 in 15 innings in NCAA Division II South Region action.
Florida Southern’s Mike Grace hit a two-out infield single to score Brian Schultz from third base in the top of the 15th inning to end a 4 hour, 35 minute battle. The game was the second longest game in FGCU history and the longest extra-inning game at Swanson Stadium.
There was very little difference between the two teams in the game. They combined for 11 runs, 29 hits, five errors and 30 runners left on base. And both teams benefited from outstanding relief pitching. But early on it looked as if the Moccasins, which have now won seven of its last nine games, had the Eagles’ number.
The Mocs built the early lead by scoring in three of the first four innings. After an infield error and a wild pitch, Grace lined a two-out single to right field for a 1-0 lead. The Mocs added two runs in the third on a wild pitch on a 3-2 count with bases loaded. They would make it 4-0 on another Eagles error in the fourth.
But the Eagles finally got through against Florida Southern ace Dan Albritton in the fourth inning. With two outs, junior Robby Rotunno (Sanford, Fla.) drew a walk and scored on freshman Casey Coleman’s (Cape Coral, Fla.) double down the right field line for the Eagles first run. Freshman Patrick Garrido (West Palm Beach, Fla.) and sophomore Graig Smith (Venice, Fla.) followed with base hits to cut the deficit to 4-2.
The Eagles tied the game at 4-4 in the fifth as junior Geoff Rottmayer (Clearwater, Fla.) and Coleman each had RBI doubles.
FGCU manufactured a run in the sixth inning to take a 5-4 lead. Smith led off with a double off Albritton to left centerfield, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by freshman Josh Upchurch (Cape Coral, Fla.). He later scored on a groundout off the bat of junior Travis Cunningham (Coral Springs, Fla.).
Florida Southern came right back to tie the game at 5-5 in the seventh on a RBI single to center field by Kyle Patrick off Eagles reliever Ryan Williams (Estero, Fla.). In the eighth inning, FGCU had an opportunity to retake the lead but Garrido was thrown out at home by All-American left fielder Nick Diyorio to end the inning.
The final seven innings settled down to be a pitcher’s dual between the Eagles’ Matt Laliberte (New Port Richey, Fla.), the fourth Eagles pitcher, and the Mocs’ senior All-American Kyle De Young, the third FSC hurler.
Laliberte scattered six hits over the final 6.1 innings, his longest career outing, getting the Eagles out of a bases loaded jam in the ninth and allowing just three base runners before the 15th. Laliberte (1-1) struck out four Mocs and walked just one.
De Young came on in the ninth inning for the Mocs, stranding five base runners in his seven innings of relief. De Young (1-1) held the Eagles to four hits and recorded four strikeouts.
The bottom third of the Eagles batting order combined for nine of the teams’ 14 hits. Coleman, Garrido and Smith each went 3-for-7 to pace the FGCU offense.
Grace went 4-for-8 while Schultz was 3-for-8 for the Mocs. Diyorio had two hits to set a new FSC school record by hitting safely in 34 consecutive games.
The Eagles’ fall to 11-4 overall and 11-2 against South Region teams. The Mocs’ are now 13-6. The two teams conclude their series with a doubleheader Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. at Swanson Stadium.