NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The FGCU baseball team used a three-run ninth inning to defeat the Bisons of Lipscomb, 11-9, in game three of the three game series on Sunday afternoon in Nashville, Tenn.
FGCU improves to 23-12 on the season (14-4 A-Sun) while Lipscomb drops to 13-24 on the year (5-7 A-Sun).
Senior Pete Woodworth (St. Petersburg, Fla.) was given the game ball to start the afternoon for the Eagles. The right hander went six innings and allowed two earned runs on eight hits, to go with four strikeouts in the no-decision. Junior Rob Matthews (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) moved to 2-0 on the season after throwing two-thirds innings and allowing two runs on three hits in the winning effort. Sophomore Jacob Barnes (St. Petersburg, Fla.) picked up his first save of the season after pitching one inning of shutout baseball with a pair of strikeouts.
Davey Hackett earned the start for the Bisons, but Matt Bowling was credited with the loss for Lipscomb after pitching one inning and allowing two earned runs on three hits.
The Eagles were the first to put points up on the scoreboard, moving three runs home in the top of the third inning. Third baseman Austin Gaines (Dunedin, Fla.) singled down the left field line and advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by junior Alex Lozada (Estero, Fla.). Shortstop Stephen Wickens (Whitby, Ontario) then stepped up and smacked a 1-0 single into center field to score Gaines (1-0). Junior Mikel Alvarez (West Palm Beach, Fla.) doubled to right field to bring home Wickens (2-0) and eventually came around to score after junior Tim Roberson (West Palm Beach, Fla.) reached on an error by the shortstop (3-0).
In the top of the fourth frame, the Blue and Green increased their lead to a five run advantage. Sophomore Joe Guarnaccia (Weston, Fla.) led the inning off with a single to the shortstop, stole second base and reached third on a wild pitch. Wickens picked up his second RBI on the day as he knocked a single into right field to plate Guarnaccia (4-0). After an Alvarez walk, Wickens stole third to put runners on the corners with two outs. Roberson stepped into the batter’s box and sent a 1-1 pitch into right field to score Wickens (5-0).
The Eagles continued to add to their lead in the top of the fifth. After Lipscomb brought in Chad Fromm to relieve Hackett, junior Luke Smierciak (Gainesville, Fla.) welcomed him to the game by lacing a 1-0 pitch over the wall in left field for his team-leading seventh homer of the season (6-0). With two outs, Lozada doubled to center field and came in to score when Wickens sent an RBI single into right field (7-0).
The Bisons broke up the shutout in the bottom of the fifth, as a pair runs came across the plate. M.L. Williams sent the first pitch of the at-bat over the right center field fence to cut into the FGCU lead (7-1). Lee Wilson was hit by a pitch and Zach Messer double to put runners on second and third. After Ryan Wilkins was walked to load the bases, Andrew Nickerson’s single through the left side trimmed FGCU’s lead to five runs (7-2).
Guarnaccia’s sacrifice fly extended the Eagles lead in the visitor's half of the sixth. The right fielder fouled out to right field to score first baseman Zach Maxfield (North Port, Fla.), who reached base after singling through the right side (8-2).
C.J. Evans (Tampa, Fla.) came in to relieve Woodworth in the bottom of the seventh. The sophomore forced a groundout to the second baseman before giving up back-to-back singles and picking up his first strikeout of the outing. With two outs and runners on first and third, a wild pitch would bring in Cory Hale to cut the FGCU lead to 8-3.
Lipscomb would move ahead on the scoreboard in the home half of the eighth. The Bisons would use five hits, including a 3-run homer from Ryan Wilkins and four singles, to plate six runs and take a 9-8 lead
With their backs against the wall, the Eagles scored three runs in the top of the ninth inning to retake the lead. Roberson led the inning off with a walk and Maxfield moved him to third with ground-rule double. Senior Josh Chester’s (Weston, Fla.) single to right field scored Roberson to tie the game (9-9), but Maxfield was gunned down at home plate trying to score from second base. Freshman Jay Laurienzo (Tampa, Fla.) came in to pitch run for Chester, who reached second when Maxfield was thrown out at home. After Smierciak and Gaines drew walks to load the bases with two outs, Lozada was hit by a pitch to give the Eagles the 10-9 lead. Wickens followed with an RBI single that scored Smierciak and increased the Blue and Green’s lead to 11-9.
Barnes took the mound in the bottom of the ninth and forced the first batter he faced to ground out to the shortstop before fanning the next two hitters as the Eagles held on for the 11-9 victory.
The Blue and Green moved 11 runs across on 16 hits in the contest. Wickens hit 4-for-4 with a pair of runs and four RBI, while Smierciak went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. Alvarez batted 2-for-5 with a run scored and an RBI.
Lipscomb registered nine runs on 15 hits in the game.
FGCU will return to the field on Tuesday, April 20 when they face FAU (22-14) at Swanson Stadium in the first game of a home and home matchup with the Owls. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.