FGCU Baseball Pulls Out 6-3 Regional Win over Lynn
FORT MYERS, Fla. – No. 21 Florida Gulf Coast University scored three runs in the eighth inning to break open a tie game as the Eagles pulled out a 6-3 NCAA Division II South Region win Saturday night over Lynn University at Swanson Stadium.
FGCU, which is currently ranked third in the South Region, picked up the go-ahead run on an RBI fielder’s choice off the bat of freshman Josh Upchurch (Cape Coral, Fla.) and added two insurance runs on a throwing error by Lynn third baseman Jimmy Bacon. Winners of five straight, the Eagles improve to 33-10. The Knights, ranked fifth in the South Region, fall to 31-18.
The Eagles led much of the game on the strength of starting pitcher Justin Stiver (Englewood, Fla.). The junior right-hander held Lynn to only one run and two hits as the Eagles built a 3-1 lead through seven innings.
The Knights chased Stiver after a walk and a one-out single in the eighth. Freshman lefty Richard Bleier (Plantation, Fla.) came on in relief but allowed a two-run double to Bacon and hit a batter as Lynn pulled even at 3-3. But junior right-hander Chris Hassen (Port Charlotte, Fla.) came on in relief to strand a pair of Knights base runners.
Upchurch beat out a potential inning-ending double play ball to second base with the bases loaded in the eighth that scored junior Travis Cunningham (Coral Springs, Fla.) for the eventual game-winner. Cunningham had led off the inning with a walk, and moved to third on a single to right-center by Casey Coleman (Cape Coral, Fla.). Sophomore Graig Smith (Venice, Fla.) drew a one-out walk to load the bases.
FGCU was able to take the early lead with an unearned run in the third inning and RBI singles by Coleman and Smith in the fourth. Coleman led an 11-hit attack with three hits and two runs scored for FGCU, while senior Ian Manson (Plano, Texas) had a double and single. Eight starters had at least one base hit for the Eagles.
“At this time of year, every game is big,” said FGCU head coach Dave Tollett, whose team is battling with Lynn for one of the three regional at-large berths for the NCAA. “Justin Stiver was excellent tonight and we scratched out runs when we had the chance. But Lynn will be ready to go on Sunday. We have to be ready to go at it again.”
The two teams conclude the three-game series with a 1 p.m. doubleheader on Sunday at Swanson Stadium.