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Eagles Split with Kennesaw State in Saturday Doubleheader
FORT MYERS, Fla. – To wrap-up the three-game A-Sun series, the FGCU Baseball team (14-8, 7-2 A-Sun) split doubleheader games with the Kennesaw State Owls (10-16, 2-4 A-Sun) on Saturday at Swanson Stadium. The Eagles took game one, 6-5, but the Owls were successful in game two, 8-7.
In game one, the Eagles jumped out to an early two run lead in the home half of the second. Junior Austin Gaines (Dunedin, Fla.) dropped a single into shallow right field to start off the inning, and a double to left center by freshman Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario) put runners on second and third with no outs. Both runners came across the dish when senior Josh Chester (Weston, Fla.) lined a single off the mound and into center field, giving the home team a 2-0 advantage.
In the bottom of the third inning, the Blue and Green would double the lead on a two-run long ball off the bat of junior Tim Roberson (West Palm Beach, Fla.). Junior second baseman Mikel Alvarez (West Palm Beach, Fla.) reached on an error by the shortstop with one out and proceeded to steal second base before Roberson stepped to the plate and sent a 2-2 delivery deep over the fence in left field, for his sixth home run of the season (4-0).
Kennesaw State matched with a two-run home run of their own in the top of the fifth frame. Clint Roques reached on a double down the left field line with one out, and a two-out home run by Ross Tendler stayed just inside the left field foul pole to cut the Eagles lead to 4-2.
The Eagles would plate another run in the bottom of the sixth inning. With two outs, junior Luke Smierciak (Gainesville, Fla.) doubled to right center and scored (5-2) on a double down the left field line by junior Stephen Wickens (Whitby, Ontario).
The visitors rattled off three unanswered runs over the final three innings to draw the game level once again. In the top of the seventh, the Owls knocked in a pair of runs on three hits and were handed a run in the top of the ninth on a bases loaded walk (5-5). The Eagles would come up empty in the final frame of regulation, sending the game to extra innings.
Reeves started things off in the bottom of the tenth with a double to right center field and a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Joe Guarnaccia (Davie, Fla.) advanced Reeves to third. With one out, Chester stepped back into the box and sent a 0-1 pitch into right field, moving Reeves home and giving the Eagles the victory in walk-off fashion.
Junior right hander Richie Erath (West Palm Beach, Fla.) got the nod for the Eagles and went six and two thirds, allowing four runs (four earned) on eight hits in a no-decision start. Sophomore righty Jacob Barnes (St. Petersburg, Fla.) improved to 1-1 on the year after throwing one inning of scoreless baseball in the winning effort.
The Owls’ Josh Carr allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits in the six inning no-decision outing. Brad Long (2-2) recorded the loss for the KSU after giving up one run (one earned) on four hits in three and one third innings.
The Eagles picked up six runs on 12 hits in the first contest of the day. Wickens recorded an RBI and Reeves scored twice, while each went 2-for-5 at the plate. Chester went 2-for-4 in game one with three RBI, while Roberson picked up a run scored and two RBI.
In game two, the Owls were able to push a pair of runs across the plate in the top of the second inning to grab the early lead. Kennesaw pushed three more runs across as Josh Whitaker hit a three-run home run that barely cleared the wall in left center field (5-0) in the top of the third inning.
The Blue and Green didn’t bow down, scoring three runs in the bottom of the third (5-3) off of three straight singles as Roberson, Maxfield, and Gaines each drove in runs.
The Owls added three more runs in the top of the sixth before FGCU scored runs in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings. The Eagles rally would come up short as Kennesaw avoided the three game sweep and picked up the 8-7 victory.
Kelly Holt got the win in relief for KSU pitching two and two-thirds innings while allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits while striking out two. J.B. Johnson got the old fashion three inning save as he gave up just one earned run and two hits over the final frames.
Pete Woodworth (St. Petersburg, Fla.) suffered his first loss of the season (4-1) for the Eagles as he went five and one-third innings and allowed eight runs on 10 hits. Kevin Bryant (Homestead. Fla.) looked strong in relief for the Blue and Green throwing nearly three innings of shutout ball.
The Eagles will be back in action as Tuesday, March, 30th as they travel to Stillwater, Okla. to do battle with Oklahoma State in a two-game, mid-week series.