FORT MYERS, Fla. – No. 23 Florida Gulf Coast University jumped out to an early lead and never looked back as they defeated Slippery Rock University 8-4 at Swanson Stadium Friday night. FGCU (20-5) had now won six straight games. Slippery Rock (8-5) had a five-game winning streak snapped.
The Eagles jumped out early on the Rock by scoring five runs in the first inning. After walks to Mike Cleghorn (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Jason Louwsma (Sanford, Fla.) with one out, senior Ian Manson (Plano, Texas) doubled to left centerfield for a 2-0 lead. Shawn Griffin (Hollywood, Fla.) singled and Robby Rotunno (Sanford, Fla.) was hit by a pitch to load the bases with two outs. Casey Coleman (Cape Coral, Fla.) had an RBI single to short right field and Graig Smith (Venice, Fla.) hit a two-run single to left for the 5-0 lead.
FGCU added a run in the second on a RBI double down the right field line by Travis Cunningham (Coral Springs, Fla.) and a run in the fifth on a RBI double by Josh Upchurch (Cape Coral, Fla.) that scored Rotunno.
Slippery Rock threatened to score in the sixth but Eagles reliever JJ Crumbley (Tampa, Fla.) stranded two runners in relief of starter Justin Stiver (Englewood, Fla.). Stiver scattered four hits and had seven strikeouts in 5.1 innings to improve to 5-1.
The Rock rallied for four runs on three hits in the seventh inning, aided by a pair of infield errors by FGCU to cut the lead to 7-4. The Eagles responded with their final run in the bottom of the inning on an RBI single from Upchurch.
Griffin went 4-for-4 to key the Eagles’ 16-hit attack. Upchurch went 3-for-5 while Louwsma and Manson had two hits each.
Three players – Todd Schickling, Jim Eimiller and Chris Tolliver – had two hits each for SRU. Right-hander Josh Rape took the loss on the hill.
FGCU is back in action on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. when it hosts Wayne State (Mich.).