FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU baseball team fell to FAU, 4-3, in extra innings on Tuesday evening at Swanson Stadium. The Eagles jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, but surrendered a run in the tenth to give the Owls the road win.
With the loss, the Eagles moved to 23-13 overall (14-4 A-Sun) while the Owls improved to 23-14 on the season (12-6 Sun Belt).
Sophomore Jacob Barnes (St. Petersburg, Fla.) started the evening on the mound for the Blue and Green. In his first career start, the righty went five innings and allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits with six strikeouts in the no-decision. Redshirt sophomore Patrick Nathanson (Maitland, Fla.) pitched 3.2 innings in relief, allowing no runs on two hits and recorded two strikeouts. Junior Jack Wagoner (Berlin, Conn.) was credited with the loss after throwing 1.1 innings and allowing one earned run on two hits to go with one strikeout.
Ryan Bernal earned the victory for FAU after going two innings and allowing one earned run on three hits. Taylor Everist started the evening for the visitors and pitched 5.2 innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits.
The Eagles changed the scoreboard in the home half of the second by moving two runs across the plate. Following a one-out two bagger by senior Josh Chester (Weston, Fla.) and a walk by junior Luke Smierciak (Gainesville, Fla.), the Eagles had runners on first and second. After sophomore Joe Guarnaccia (Weston, Fla.) reached on a fielder’s choice, junior Alex Lozada (Estero, Fla.) laced a two-out double to the fence in the right center field gap to plate Smierciak and Guarnaccia, giving the home team an early 2-0 lead.
FAU was able to cut the lead in half in the top of the third inning. Singles by Chase Vergason and Raymond Church put runners on first and second with one out. Another single to center field by Andy Mee plated Vergason from second base (2-1).
The Owls drew level in the visitor’s half of the fourth frame after a leadoff double to left field by Eddie Cassidy. The next batter, Nick Delguidice, matched with a double of his own down the left field line to score Cassidy and bring the game back even at 2-2. The Eagles got out of the inning before any further damage could be done, as Barnes sat down two of the next three batters and got Vergason to flyout to right field.
In the top of the fifth stanza, FAU took their first lead of the ball game. Church reached first on an infield fielding error and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Mike Albaladejo. Dan Scheffler sent a two-out double down the line in left field to bring Church across the dish and give the visitors a 3-2 advantage.
The Blue and Green evened the game in the bottom of the eighth frame. Junior shortstop Stephen Wickens (Whitby, Ontario) connected for a one out single to left field and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Later in the inning, junior Tim Roberson (West Palm Beach, Fla.) smoked a 2-0 pitch to the fence in center field for a two-out double that scored Wickens from second (3-3). The score would remain the same at the end of regulation and the game headed to extra innings tied at three apiece.
The top of the tenth inning would see the Owls take a one run lead. Singles by Scheffler and Delguidice, and a walk by Sean Bukovich loaded the bases with two outs. Another walk in the inning by Anothony Mesa allowed the Scheffler to come home and give the visitors a 4-3 lead. FAU retired the side in the bottom of the extra frame holding on for the one-run victory.
The Blue and Green recorded three runs on nine hits in the game and were led offensively by Wickens’ 3-for-5, one run performance. Roberson went 2-for-5 with an RBI and Lozada batted 1-for-4 with two RBI. Maxfield, Chester, and Smierciak also recorded hits in the contest.
The Owls tallied four runs on 11 hits on the evening.
FGCU and FAU will meet again in Boca Rotan, Fla. on Tuesday, May 11th for the final game of the home and home series between the schools.
The Eagles will be back in action for a three game weekend series with conference opponent Belmont at Swanson Stadium. A-Sun Preseason Pitcher of the Year Chris Sale (Lakeland, Fla.) is the probable starter in the opening contest, scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. start on Friday evening.