by Matt Collver
AUGUSTA, GA – The No. 26 Florida Gulf Coast University baseball team defeated Paine College Saturday in the first game of a doubleheader 8-4 before heavy rain rolled into the area. The Eagles got through just one inning in game two before the umpire scalled the game because of the rain. With the win, FGCU improves to 31-10 on the year as they head down the final stretch of the regular season.
Junior Jason Kiley (Palm Harbor, Fla.) took the mound for the Eagles in his 11th start of the year. Kiley pitched a complete game, going seven innings while striking out six and giving up four runs on just three hits. The win moves Kiley to 6-2 on the year.
In the first inning, freshman Josh Upchurch (Cape Coral, Fla.) drew a lead-off walk. Sophomore Mike Cleghorn (Jacksonville, Fla.) flied out to center field, bringing up senior Eagle slugger Jason Louwsma (Sanford, Fla.) Louwsma stepped in and ripped his school record 25th double of the season. On the next play, a wild pitch allowed Upchurch to score from third giving the Eagles the early 1-0 lead. Paine would tie the game in the bottom half of the inning off of an RBI by Starling Odoms.
FGCU regained the lead in the third inning. With the bases loaded, freshman Casey Coleman (Cape Coral, Fla.) crushed a three-run triple. The next Eagle batter, freshman Pat Garrido (West Palm Beach, Fla.) singled to left, scoring Coleman and giving the Eagles a 5-1 lead.
The Eagles scored three more runs in the sixth. Cleghorn started the inning with a single through the left side. Louwsma and senior Ian Manson (Plano, Texas) were both retired. With two outs, sophomore Shawn Griffin (Hollywood, Fla.) hit a triple knocking in Cleghorn from second base. With Griffin on third, junior Geoff Rottmayer (Clearwater, Fla.) demolished the ball over the left field wall. Rottmayer was only the third player to hit a homerun at Paine Stadium all year. Paine Stadium, formerly a football field, is one of the longest baseball stadiums in Division II. With the two-run homer, the Eagles took a commanding lead at 8-1.
Paine tried to rally by scoring two runs in the sixth and one in the seventh. The runs would not be enough as the Eagles held off the Lions to win 8-4. Garrido went four for four with four singles and an RBI for FGCU. Griffin and Coleman each had two hits with one and three RBI respectively. Rottmayer added two RBI with his eighth homerun of the season.
The Eagles host South Region opponent Saint Leo University Tuesday evening at Swanson Stadium. The first pitch will be at 6:00 p.m.