FORT MYERS, Fla. – No. 28 FGCU used a combination of good pitching and timely hitting en route to a doubleheader sweep of the Pioneers of Sacred Heart University on Saturday at Swanson Stadium. The Eagles defeated the Pioneers in game one, 7-4, and in game two, 18-3.
The victories improved No. 28 FGCU to 5-1 on the year while Sacred Heart’s record drops to 1-2 on the season.
In game one, the Eagles were the first on the board as junior Austin Gaines (Dunedin, Fla.) laced a 0-2 pitch well over the left field fence for a solo homerun, giving FGCU a 1-0 lead in the home half of the second inning.
The Blue and Green would add two more to their total in the bottom of the fourth. Gaines singled to third base, junior Luke Smierciak (Gainesville, Fla.) reached on an error by the third baseman and freshman Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario) walked to load the bases with one out. Freshman designated hitter Kurtis Mullaney (Jacksonville, Fla.) connected on a 0-1 delivery, sending it to right field and plating two RBI (3-0).
In the fifth inning, junior shortstop Stephen Wickens (Whitby, Ontario) reached base on a single to right center and proceeded to steal second and third. Junior Zach Maxfield (North Port, Fla.) stepped to the plate and singled to right field on the 3-2 pitch, driving in Wickens from third (4-0).
Following a four hour and 38 minute rain delay, the Eagles plated another pair of runs in the home portion of the sixth inning. Smierciak was hit by a 2-0 pitch, Reeves beat out a bunt and Mullaney advanced the runners to second and third on a sacrifice bunt. Smierciak would score on a pass ball (5-0) and a Wickens single through the left side would send Reeves across the plate (6-0).
The Eagles would add another insurance run in the bottom of the eighth inning as Wickens was hit by a 2-1 pitch and picked up two more stolen bases, before scoring on a wild pitch (7-0).
Sacred Heart wouldn’t go down without a fight, moving four runners across the plate on six hits in the top half of the ninth inning (7-4).
Junior right hander Richie Erath (West Palm Beach, Fla.) pitched five innings of no-hit baseball, recording nine strikeouts in the winning effort. Erath’s record improved to 2-0 on the year.
Sacred Heart’s four-run ninth inning moved freshman left hander R.J. Brown (Brandon, Fla.) in line for the save, pitching a third of an inning and facing only one batter.
Starting pitcher Chris Zaccherio was credited with the loss for Sacred Heart going five innings and surrendering four earned runs.
In game two, the Eagles got a quality start from junior Patrick Nathanson (Maitland, Fla.) while the FGCU bats pounded out 18 runs on 19 hits on their way to a 15 run victory.
Following a shaky first inning, Nathanson (2-0) settled down and threw seven strong innings while giving up just two runs and 5 hits. Nathanson also added 10 strikeouts on the way to the win.
Reeves had an impressive night for the Blue and Green offensively as he went 5-for-5 with 4 RBI’s and 4 runs scored. Also for the Eagles, Mullaney went 3-for-5 with 3 RBI’s and two runs scored.
After surrendering a couple early runs in the opening frame, FGCU quickly got a run back in the first as Wickens walked before stealing both second and third base, and later scored on a wild pitch with two outs (2-1). The Green and Blue would take the lead for good in second inning as Maxfield came up with a clutch, three-run double with two outs to give the Eagles a 5-2 lead. FGCU would plate one run in the third and three more runs in the fourth inning as Reeves and Mullaney teamed up with back-to-back base hits (9-2).
The Eagles were back at it in the fifth inning as they scored five more runs on four hits (14-2). The rally was capped by a Gaines two-RBI single. FGCU would end their scoring in the seventh inning as they came up with four more runs. Reeves delivered yet another RBI base hit, while Wickens plated a run on a sacrifice fly (18-2).
The Green and Blue wrap up their four-game series with Sacred Heart Sunday afternoon. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. from Swanson Stadium.