FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU baseball team split double header contests with Mercer on Saturday at Swanson Stadium. The Eagles fell in game one, 5-4, but were victorious in game two, 6-4.
With the doubleheader split, FGCU moved to 17-10 overall and 9-3 in the A-Sun conference, while Mercer went to 17-13 overall and 5-4 in A-Sun play.
In game one, the Eagles brought a run across in their first chance at the plate. Junior Mikel Alvarez (West Palm Beach, Fla.) reached on a fielder’s choice and was followed by a single to left field by classmate Tim Roberson (West Palm Beach, Fla.). Preseason Player of the Year Zach Maxfield (North Port, Fla.) sent a one out single into shallow right field to plate Alvarez from second base and give FGCU an early 1-0 lead.
Mercer was able to draw even in the top half of the fifth inning. After recording their first two hits of the ballgame, the Bears moved a runner home from third base on a failed pickoff attempt (1-1).
The Blue and Green regained the lead in the home half of the fifth frame, following a leadoff single by junior shortstop Stephen Wickens (Whitby, Ontario) through the left side. After swiping second base, Wickens came home on a double down the left field line by Alvarez (2-1).
In the top of the sixth the Bears would move ahead on the scoreboard, 4-2, following three runs in the inning. Mercer recorded four hits and gained a two-run advantage, piecing together a two-out rally in the frame.
FGCU cut into the Mercer lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, off the bat of Luke Smierciak (Gainesville, Fla.). With one out, the junior outfielder sent a high fly ball over the fence in left field for a solo home run, his fourth of the season (4-3).
The Bears added a run to their total in the visitor’s side of the seventh inning. The leadoff batter stepped to the plate and laced a 2-1 delivery over the fence in left center, moving the score to 5-3 in favor of Mercer.
The Eagles brought another run across the dish in the bottom of the final frame. Josh Chester (Weston, Fla.) led off the inning with a walk, and Alex Lozada (Estero, Fla.) stepped in to pinch run. Wickens singled through first base on a 1-0 pitch, putting runners on first and second with no outs. Alvarez laid down a bunt single and Lozada came home on a throwing error on the play (5-4). FGCU would leave the tying run stranded at second base as Mercer recorded the final out of the contest.
Junior Richie Erath (West Palm Beach, Fla.) pitched a complete game for the Eagles, allowing five runs (four earned) on nine hits and no walks with two strikeouts. The righty moved to 4-1 on the season with the loss.
David Teasley (2-0) picked up the win for Mercer, allowing one run (one earned) on two hits and a walk with three strikeouts in 3.1 innings.
Game one saw the Blue and Green pick up the four runs on 12 hits. Wickens batted 3-for-4 in the game with a run scored. Alvarez and Smierciak each went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Maxfield also went 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Mercer recorded five runs on nine hits in the first contest of the day.
Right-hander Pete Woodworth (St. Petersburg, Fla.) got the nod for the Eagles in game two of the doubleheader. The senior went six innings, allowing two runs (two earned) on four hits with three strikeouts in the no-decision outing. Sophomore Jacob Barnes improved to 2-1 on the year, picking up the win in a one inning performance.
J.T. Odom was credited with the loss for Mercer, giving up two runs (two earned) on three hits in 0.2 innings pitched.
FGCU jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning. Alvarez and Smierciak each singled to start off the frame, putting runners on first and second with no outs. Roberson stepped in and sent the first pitch delivery into center field to score Alvarez, and a fielding error on the play by the center fielder allowed Smierciak to come across the dish as well (2-0).
The home team recorded a pair of runs in the latter half of the fifth inning. Smierciak started things off with a one out single through the left side and advanced to second base on a failed pickoff attempt. Roberson stepped back in the box and roped a double to right field to score Smierciak (3-0) and advanced to third on a fly ball to center field. Roberson came across the dish on a two-out double to the left field fence by junior Austin Gaines (Dunedin, Fla.), moving the Eagles ahead 4-0.
Mercer leveled the game with four runs in the visitor’s side of the seventh inning. Following a leadoff single to the shortstop, the Bears moved two runs across on a two-run shot over the right center field fence (4-2). Later in the inning with two outs, Mercer connected with their second two-run home run of the inning to bring the game back even at 4-4.
The Blue and Green reestablished the lead in the home portion of the seventh. A leadoff single up the middle by Roberson jump started the inning for the Eagles. Gaines doubled to right center to score Roberson (5-4) and a single to right center by freshman Kurtis Mullaney (Jacksonville, Fla.) moved Gaines in from second base, giving FGCU a two-run advantage (6-4).
The Eagles kept the Bears scoreless over the final two frames and held on for the 6-4 victory.
In the second game of the day, FGCU tallied six runs on 14 hits. Roberson led the way in the contest, going 3-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored. Smierciak scored twice and Gaines added one RBI and one run scored, as each went 2-for-4 in the game. Mullaney added a hit and an RBI in the contest, while Alvarez went 2-for-5 with a run scored.
A mid-week matchup with the FIU Golden Panthers is slated next for the Eagles. The teams will meet for the second time this season in Miami, Fla. on Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. FIU slipped past FGCU, 8-6, when the teams met at Swanson Stadium on March 16th.