WICHITA, Kan. – The No. 30 FGCU baseball team plated five runs in the top of the ninth inning as they went on to a 7-2 defeat of No. 24 Wichita State at Eck Stadium in Wichita, Kan. on Friday evening. The Eagle victory handed the Shockers their first loss of the year.
The Blue and Green improved to 7-2 on the season while the Shockers’ record dropped to 5-1 on the year.
“This was an all-around great collegiate baseball game,” said head coach Dave Tollett. “Through the first six innings we had two aces going at it on the mound. It was big for our team to take game one, but now we focus on going right back at it tomorrow.”
Junior Chris Sale (Lakeland, Fla.) got the start on the mound for the Eagles and collected 11 strikeouts in six innings, while giving up two runs (two earned) on five hits and one walk in the no decision. Senior Pete Woodworth (St. Petersburg, Fla.) picked up the victory, recording one strikeout in three innings pitched. Woodworth improved to 3-0 on the season with the win.
Tim Kelly started the game and earned the no decision for Wichita State, giving up two runs (two earned) with four strikeouts and two walks in six and two-thirds innings pitched. Chance Sossamon was credited with the loss for the Shockers, allowing five runs (four earned) in one and two-thirds innings.
Wichita State got on the board in the bottom of the second. A single, followed by a double, put runners on second and third with one out for the Shockers. Leftfielder Johnny Coy grounded out to second base, plating the runner from third in the process (1-0).
The Eagles would draw even in the top half of the fourth, as junior Zach Maxfield (North Port, Fla.) collected a run and an RBI with one swing of the bat. The Atlantic Sun Preseason Player of the Year sent the 2-0 delivery over the left field wall for his first homerun of the season (1-1).
The Shockers would regain the lead in the home half of the fourth following a single up the middle by Will Baez. Baez would proceed to steal second and would come across the plate on a two-out single to left field by Cody Lassley (2-1).
The Blue and Green would level the score yet again in the top of the seventh inning. Singles by junior Luke Smierciak (Gainesville, Fla.), freshman Kurtis Mullaney (Jacksonville, Fla.), and junior Stephen Wickens (Whitby, Ontario) loaded the bases with two outs. Junior second baseman Mikel Alvarez (West Palm Beach, Fla.) recorded his ninth RBI of the season by drawing a walk and bringing in Smierciak to tie the game at two apiece.
Both teams would have chances to reclaim the lead in the later stages of the game. The Eagles would leave the bases loaded in the top of the seventh and eighth innings and the Shockers would do the same in the home portion of the eighth. Heading into the final frame the score remained even at 2-2.
Wickens led off the top of the ninth with a single to left field and was moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Alvarez. After a fielding error by the center fielder put Gaines on second, Maxfield loaded the bases on a 3-2 walk. Junior third baseman Tim Roberson (West Palm Beach, Fla.) drove in the go-ahead run on a first pitch single to center field (3-2). With the bases still full, freshman catcher Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario) doubled to left field, moving Maxfield and Gaines across the plate (5-2). With Reeves on second and Roberson 90 feet away, Smierciak laced a 1-0 pitch up the middle and collected the final two RBI of the contest for the Eagles (7-2).
The Eagles collected seven runs on 10 hits and six walks. Wickens went 3-for-4 with a run scored. Maxfield finished 1-for-2 with a homerun, two runs, and one RBI. Smierciak went 2-for-5 with a run and two RBI. Reeves added a hit, a run and two RBI, while Roberson recorded a run and one RBI. Alvarez also knocked in one RBI on the night.
The Blue and Green will return to Eck Stadium on Saturday afternoon for game two of the three-game series with Wichita State. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. EST. Game three of the series is set for Sunday with a 1 p.m. EST start.