FORT MYERS, Fla. – Since going to a one-division format in 1999, the Eagles become the 1st A-Sun team to win consecutive titles in its first 2 years in the conference. FGCU split with Stetson on Friday at Swanson Stadium, falling 2-1 in game one, and taking game two 5-4 in12 innings.
The Eagles are 35-28 (22-7 A-Sun), and the Hatters are 27-28 (16-13 A-Sun) on the season. The Eagles have won at least 35 games every season dating date to their inaugural season in 2003.
In game one, Chris Sale (Lakeland, Fla.) threw his first complete game of the season. Sale received the loss, giving up eight hits, two runs (one earned), with 12 strike outs. Andy Mauldin received the win for Stetson. Mauldin (4-4) threw seven innings, allowed two hits, one run (earned), and struck out three.
In the top of the second, the Hatters led off the inning with back-to-back singles. FGCU starter Chris Sale worked out of the jam, striking out the next two batters, and getting a groundout to shortstop to end the Hatters threat.
The Eagles put one on the board in the bottom of the second. Josh Chester (Weston, Fla.) led off the inning with a walk, and Stephen Wickens (Whitby, Ontario) moved Chester into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt. Brad Roberts (Tampa, Fla.) singled thru the side, and Chester advanced to third. On a 0-1 count, Robert Greene (Cape Coral, Fla.) drove in his 38th RBI on a sacrifice fly to center.
Back-to-back singles in the top of the fifth put runners on first and third for the Hatters. With one out, Sale struck out the next batter and got Sean Emory to groundout to first to end the inning.
The Hatters tied the game at one in the seventh on an RBI groundout by Jacob deGrom that scored Aaron Crittenden who reached on a leadoff single.
In the top of the eighth, the Hatters took their first lead of the game. Jeff Simpson led off the inning with a double down the left field line, and would later score on a sacrifice fly by Casey Frawley.
That was all the Hatters needed as the Eagles only recorded two hits in the game. The only other time the Eagles have been held to just two hits was back on March 28th against Belmont in a game that only lasted five innings due to heavy rain.
Chester’s 24-game hitting streak was snapped after he went 0-for-2 with two walks and a run scored.
In Game two, the Eagles clinched their second straight A-Sun regular season title after defeating the Hatters 5-4 in 12 innings.
Derek Shaw (New Port Richey, Fla.) received the win. Shaw (5-2) threw the last 5.2 innings, allowed only one hit, and struck out five. Robbie Powell was tagged with the loss. Powell (2-5) threw 0.2 innings, allowed one hit and one run.
The hatters would strike first in game two taking an early 1-0 lead. After loading the bases with nobody out, Joe Castellanos (Brandon, Fla.) drove a sacrifice fly to left field allowing the first run of the game to score.
The Eagles would answer in the bottom half of the inning. Josh Chester drove a double off the right field fence to lead off the inning. Sophomore Steven Wickens (Whitby, Ontario) would drive in Chester with a RBI single back up the middle tying the game at one. After the runners advance to second and third, Bobby Greene (Cape Coral, Fla.) singled over the shortstops head allowing Wickens and Roberts to cross home plate giving the Eagles a 3-1 lead.
In the top half of the third, the Hatters would counter with two more runs of their own to tie the game at three. With two outs, FGCU starter Jason Forjet (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) would surrender a walk allowing Stetson's clean-up hitter to come to the plate. Cruz would deliver and drive a 1-1 fastball over the left center fence for his 18th home run of the season.
In the bottom of the sixth with two outs, Joe Guarnaccia (Davie, Fla) reached base on a walk and stole second. Back to back walks prompted a Stetson pitching change. After loading the bases, Stetson releiver Jake Hitchcock (Alachua, Fla.) would enter the game and throw a wild pitch which that allowed Guarnaccia to score the go ahead run for FGCU. After another walk loaded the bases for the second time in the inning, Eagle's clean-up hitter Zach Maxfield (North Port, Fla.) would ground out to the shortstop to end the inning.
Stetson would fight back yet again to tie the game in the top of the seventh at four. Nick Rickles (had a pinch hit, two out double off the left field fence. Rickles would score and tie the game on a RBI single up the middle by Jacob deGrom. Eagles Head Coach Dave Tollett would call on senior Derek Shaw (New Port Richey, Fla.) out of the bullpen. Shaw got the Eagles out of the inning with no further damage.
After 12 innings of play, the Eagles finally pushed a run across the plate in the bottom of the 12th claiming their second straight A-Sun Championship in two years. Freshman Joe Guarnaccia led off the inning with a single down the left field line. Josh Upchurch (Cape Coral, Fla.) laid down a sacrifice bunt and reached on a fielding error by the Hatters reliever Robbie Powell. With runners on first and second and nobody out, Mikel Alvarez (West Palm Beach, Fla.) laid down another sacrifice bunt. Powell fielded the groundball and lost his footing as he threw the ball down the right field line allowing Guarnaccia to round third and score the game winning run for the Eagles.
In game two, three Eagles recorded multiple hits. Chester went 2-for-5 with a run scored, Wickens went 3-for-5 with a run scored and one RBI and Greene went 2-for-5 with one RBI.
The Eagles wrap-up the 2009 season tomorrow at Swanson Stadium, first pitch is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.