FORT MYERS, Fla. - The No. 25 FGCU baseball team opened the 2010 campaign with a three-game sweep of Temple University. The Eagles earned their third victory of the weekend with a 15-6 defeat of the Owls on Sunday afternoon at Swanson Stadium. Junior Austin Gaines went 8-for-11 (.727) through the three games.
With the win the Eagles improved to 3-0 overall, while the Owls dropped to 0-3 to start the year.
“Overall we swung the bats really well,” said head baseball coach Dave Tollett. “I was really impressed with our intensity today and it’s always nice to start off the year with three straight victories.”
Senior pitcher Pete Woodworth (St. Petersburg, Fla.) got the nod in Sunday’s contest and picked up the win with five strikeouts in four innings pitched, allowing only two hits.
Ben White received the loss for Temple. White threw 3.1 innings, allowing 10 hits and eight earned runs.
The Eagles were first to put runs on the board, moving four runners across the plate in the bottom of the third. Junior shortstop Stephen Wickens (Whitby, Ontario) led off the inning with a single to center field and advanced to third on a one-out single by junior third baseman Tim Roberson (West Palm Beach, Fla.). Preseason conference play of the year, Zach Maxfield (North Port, Fla.), sent a 1-1 pitch through the right side of the infield, scoring Wickens and moving Roberson to second (1-0). Senior Josh Chester (Weston, Fla.) then singled to load the bases. With one out and the bases loaded, junior Austin Gaines (Dunedin, Fla.) connected with the delivery and sent a high chopper through the left side, plating two RBI (3-0) and advancing Chester to third on a throw to the plate. Freshman catcher Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario) plated the final run of the inning when he hit into a fielder’s choice, scoring Chester from third (4-0).
The Blue and Green added to their lead in the bottom of the fourth, with four more runs touching the plate. Junior transfer Luke Smierciak (Gainesville, Fla.) started the home half of the inning with a single to second base. Following walks by junior Mikel Alvarez (West Palm Beach, Fla.) and Roberson, Maxfield stepped up to the plate with bases loaded. With one-out, the junior sent a 3-2 pitch that dropped in to shallow right center, plating Smierciak for Maxfield’s second RBI of the day (5-0). With the bases still loaded, Chester picked up his first RBI in the game on a walk that scored Alvarez (6-0). Gaines picked up his third RBI in very similar fashion, drawing a walk that moved Roberson across the plate (7-0). Reeves sent a one-out, 3-1 pitch to right field recording the final run of the inning, as Maxfield crossed home plate to put FGCU up 8-0.
FGCU extended its lead to 10-0 in the bottom half of the fifth. Following singles by Wickens and Alvarez and a walk by Roberson, Maxfield stepped to the plate again with bases loaded. The junior collected his third RBI on the day by sending a sacrifice fly to right field, allowing Wickens to tag from third (9-0). Chester earned his second RBI on a single through the right side that plated Alvarez (10-0).
Temple would finally light up the scoreboard in the top half of the sixth inning. Sophomore Steve Nikorak started the inning off with a double to right center field. The next batter, junior Jean Carlos Diaz, also doubled to right center scoring Nikorak (10-1). The Owls would tally the second run of the inning when junior Adrian Perez singled to center field, moving Diaz across the plate (10-2).
The Eagles added a five run inning in the home half of the sixth. Gaines started the inning with a single to left center, Reeves followed that with a walk, and Smierciak drew a one-out walk to load the bases. Wickens sent a ball through the left side of the infield, plating two RBI (12-2). Just four pitches later, Alvarez connected for a double to left center, plating two more runs in the inning (14-2), and Roberson added his first RBI of the game on a single that scored Alvarez from second (15-2).
The Owls added another score to their total in the top of the eighth when junior catcher Ryan Ferguson connected with a 1-2 delivery and sent the ball over the center field fence for a solo homerun (15-3). After a Perez walk, a Ben Flanary single and a wild pitch that advanced the runners to second and third, a Byron McCoy single to left plated the two runners moving the score to 15-5.
Temple added another run to the scoreboard with two outs in the top of the ninth (15-6), but that would prove to be the final run to cross the plate.
Four Eagles collected three or more hits on the day. Wickens went 4-for-6 with three runs scored and two RBI, Roberson went 3-for-4 with two runs scored, Maxfield finished 3-for-5 with two runs scored and three RBI, and Gaines went a perfect 3-for-3 with three RBI.
In the series, Gaines led FGCU offensively, going 8-for-11 with six RBI. Three other Eagles recorded six hits in the opening series, Roberson went 6-for-9 with four RBI, Smierciak went 6-for-12 with four RBI, and Wickens finished 6-for-15 with three RBI.
The Blue and Green will now travel to Coral Gables, Fla. to do battle with the No. 12 Miami Hurricanes on February 24th at 6 p.m. It will be the first of three meetings between the schools this season. The Eagles will face the Hurricanes in Fort Myers, Fla. on Wednesday, April 14th, at Hammond Stadium at 6:30 p.m. for the “Battle of the Birds”. For more information about the Hammond Stadium event please visit www.fgcuathletics.com or contact the FGCU Ticket Office located in Alico Arena at (239) 590-7145.
The Eagles land back at home on Friday, February 26th, at 6:30 p.m. for the first contest in a four-game series with Sacred Heart University. The teams will compete in a doubleheader on Saturday, February 27th and a single game on Sunday, February 28th, with first pitch set for 1 p.m. on both days.