BUIES CREEK, N.C. – In game one of the three-game series with Campbell, the FGCU baseball team survived a ninth inning rally to pick up a 13-9 victory. The Eagles registered 17 hits in the contest with each position starter recording a hit in the game.
With the victory, FGCU improved to 19-10 overall (10-3 A-Sun) while Campbell dropped to 17-14 on the year (4-9 A-Sun).
A-Sun Preseason Pitcher of the Year Chris Sale (Lakeland, Fla.) started the evening on the mound for the Eagles. The junior left-hander went a solid eight innings and allowed three runs (two earned) on eight hits to go with five strikeouts in the winning effort. Sale improved to 5-0 on the year with the win. Jason Forjet (Fort Lauderdale Fla.), Jacob Barnes (St. Petersburg, Fla.), and Austin Gaines (Dunedin, Fla.) came in to record the final three outs of the competition.
Campbell used six pitchers in the contest, with Frank Zier getting the start on the bump. Zier went four innings and allowed five runs (five earned) on nine hits in the loss.
In their first chance at the plate, the Eagles were able to move two runs home on three hits. Junior Mikel Alvarez (West Palm Beach, Fla.) got things started with a one-out single up the middle, and junior Tim Roberson (West Palm Beach, Fla.) put runners on second and third with a double to right field. A Zach Maxfield (North Port, Fla.) walk loaded the bases for Gaines who plated Alvarez on a single down the left field line (1-0). With the bases still full, junior Luke Smierciak (Gainesville, Fla.) sent a sacrifice fly to right field that scored Roberson from third (2-0).
The Blue and Green would hold the Camels scoreless in the bottom of the first, and would add two to their total in top of the second frame. Singles by shortstop Stephen Wickens (Whitby, Ontario) and Alvarez put runners on first and second with two outs, and a Roberson double to center field plated both base runners (4-0).
The home team would cut into the lead in the bottom of the second inning, moving three runs across the plate. A single to left field and an infield mishap put two runners on base for the Camels to start off the frame. Bryan Braswell came to plate and sent a 1-2 delivery over the fence in left field for a three run home run, narrowing the Blue and Green’s lead to one score (4-3).
FGCU pushed across another run in the top half of the fourth frame, following a one-out double to left center by sophomore Joe Guarnaccia (Weston, Fla.) on the first pitch of the at-bat. Wickens sent Guarnaccia home on a double of his own down the left field line, pushing the Eagles lead to two runs (5-3).
With two outs in the top of the sixth inning, the Eagles added another run to their total on a home run to right center by Maxfield (6-3). Smierciak stepped in the box two batters later and laced a two-run homerun of his own, scoring Gaines who had reached on a fielding error (8-3). The home runs were the fifth of the season for both Maxfield and Smierciak.
Three insurance runs would cross the plate for the Blue and Green in the top of the eighth inning. Maxfield drew a full count walk, Gaines singled to right field, and Smierciak drew another full count walk to load the bases. Senior Josh Chester (Weston, Fla.) laced a triple to right center field, scoring the three base runners (11-3). Chester would also score later in the inning on a sacrifice fly to right field by Guarnaccia, giving the Eagles a 12-3 advantage.
FGCU added another run in the visitor’s half of the final inning. Maxfield headed to first on a 3-1 walk and was followed by a double from Gaines that put the runners on second and third with one out. Smierciak singled through the left side, bringing in Maxfield from third (13-3).
Campbell wouldn’t go down quietly, slicing the Eagle’s lead to four runs in the final half inning. The Camels brought in six runs on six hits, including four doubles and two walks before the Eagles recorded the final out of the contest, holding on to a 13-9 lead.
The Eagles 13 runs came home on 17 hits in the outing. Smierciak led the way offensively, going 2-for-2 with two runs, four RBI, and a home run. Chester brought in three RBI and scored a run in his 2-for-5 performance, while Gaines went 4-for-6 with one RBI and two runs scored.
Campbell moved in nine runs on 14 hits in the game.
The Eagles and Camels will wrap-up the weekend match up with a double header beginning at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.