FORT MYERS, Fla. - The FGCU Baseball team looks to continue its charge up the Atlantic Sun Conference standings as they host the Mercer Bears in a three-game set this weekend at Swanson Stadium.
The Eagles (15-9, 7-2 A-Sun) enter the weekend ranked second in the Atlantic Sun standings after a conference sweep of USC Upstate and taking two of three from both Stetson and Kennesaw State. Mercer comes into the weekend with a 4-2 A-Sun mark and are tied for third in the standings. The Bears have taken two of three from both Campbell and Jacksonville.
FGCU features two of the top pitchers in the conference in Chris Sale (Lakeland, Fla.) and Riche Erath (West Palm Beach, Fla.). The pair has allowed only 14 earned runs in 73.2 innings pitched this season with a combined record of 7-0. Sale, the A-Sun Preseason Pitcher of the Year, leads the conference in ERA and strikeouts, despite ranking tied for 10th in the league in innings pitched. The junior left-hander averages 1.38 strikeouts per inning and has allowed the fewest number of earned runs among conference pitchers with at least 1.0 inning pitched per game played.
Through 24 games, FGCU holds a .348 team batting average with all starters hitting above .297. The team is led by A-Sun Preseason Player of the Year Zach Maxfield’s (North Port, Fla.) .429 average with 27 RBI, 21 runs scored, and four home runs. Mikel Alvarez (West Palm Beach, Fla.) is second on the squad with a .380 average to go with his 20 RBI, 26 runs, and two home runs. Tim Roberson (West Palm Beach, Fla.), FGCU’s leader in homers (6), and Stephen Wickens (Whitby, Ontario, Canada) have combined for 54 runs, 45 RBI, and are hitting .355 and .377, respectively. The Blue and Green have outscored their opponents 215-143 thus far and have a pitching staff that has struck out 207 batters while walking 88.
Mercer (16-12, 4-2 A-Sun) holds one of the top offenses in the conference. Through 28 games, Mercer has scored at least five runs in all but seven contests. The Orange and Black lead the A-Sun in batting average (.351), runs scored (248), hits (358), RBI (227) and total bases (542). Jacob Tanis, the A-Sun Player of the Week, leads the Mercer offense and ranks as one of the top offense weapons in the conference. Tanis leads the A-Sun in runs scored, hits, doubles, total bases and RBIs. Tanis and ETSU’s Paul Hoilman stand as the only players in the conference’s top three in runs scored, RBIs and home runs.
The Orange and Black have played 11 of their last 13 games against teams in the top 150 RPI. FGCU is currently ranked 123 in team RPI after most recently knocking off Big 12 member Oklahoma State 10-7 on Wednesday evening.
Following the opening contest on Friday, April 2 (6:30 p.m.), the Eagles and Bears meet again on Saturday for an afternoon double-header with games scheduled for a 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. first pitch, respectively. There will be an Easter Egg hunt for the kids in attendance between the double header games on Saturday afternoon.
FGCU-Mercer Series Information
Streaming Video: ASun.TV
Live Stats: www.FGCUAthletics.com
Series: FGCU Leads 5-1
Last Meeting: 4/5/09 FGCU 14, Mercer 11 in Macon, Ga.
Probable Pitching Matchups
Fri., April 2
Mercer: Brandon Love, So., LH, 5-1, 4.54 ERA
FGCU: Chris Sale, Jr., LH, 3-0, 1.59 ERA
Sat., April 3 (Gm 1)
Mercer: Matt McCall, Fr., RH, 2-1, 5.70 ERA
FGCU: Richie Erath, Jr., RH, 4-0, 1.82 ERA
Sat., April 3 (Gm 2)
Mercer: David Randall, So., LH, 3-2, 6.98 ERA
FGCU: Pete Woodworth, Sr., RH, 4-1, 5.93 ERA