FORT MYERS, Fla.- A-Sun Preseason Pitcher of the Year Chris Sale (Lakeland, Fla.) set a new FGCU record with 15 strikeouts in a complete game one-hitter to lead the Eagles past Belmont, 1-0, on Friday evening at Swanson Stadium.
In victory, the Blue and Green improve to 24-13 overall (15-4 A-Sun) while Belmont drops to 19-21 on the year (7-9 A-Sun).
Sale controlled the mound throughout the nine inning performance, allowing no runs to come across the plate on one hit while registering a record setting 15 strikeouts with only one walk. The junior lefty has already had two 14 strikeout performances this season, which placed him in a tie for the previous record with Chris Hassen (at Lock Haven, 3/14/2003). With the win, the Eagle ace’s record moves to 6-0 on the season with a team-leading 93 strikeouts and team-low nine walks.
“Chris was awesome tonight,” said head coach Dave Tollett. “Whenever you set a school record in any category, especially strikeouts, the performance speaks for itself.”
Nothing should be taken away from Nate Woods’ performance for Belmont. The junior pitched 7.0 innings and allowed one run on five hits, with five strikeouts and a pair of walks in the losing effort.
The Eagles were able to bring the first run of the ball game across the dish in the home half of the seventh inning. After being presented with the FGCU Athletic Department’s Scholar Athlete of the Year Award earlier in the evening, senior Josh Chester (Weston, Fla.) led off the frame with a single that dropped into shallow center field. Sophomore Joe Guarnaccia (Weston, Fla.) laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Chester to second. Junior Alex Lozada (Estero, Fla.) stepped into the batter’s box and moved to first base on a hit-by-pitch and was followed by a deep fly out to right field by fellow classmate Austin Gaines (Dunedin, Fla.) that moved runners to the corners with two outs. Junior shortstop Stephen Wickens (Whitby, Ontario) picked up the first, and only, RBI of the contest on a single through the right side that scored senior Pete Woodworth (St. Petersburg, Fla.) from third base, who entered the game as a pinch runner for Chester. This would prove to be the only run of the night, as the home team held on for the 1-0 victory.
FGCU picked up the lone run on five hits in the contest. Junior Mikel Alvarez (West Palm Beach, Fla.) led the way offensively going 2-for-4 and Wickens went 1-for-4 with one RBI in the game. Additionally, Roberson and Chester each picked up a hit, going 1-for-4 and 1-for-3 respectively, and Woodworth was the only runner to cross the plate on the evening.
Belmont's only hit of the game came when Packy Elkins beat out a dribbler down the first baseline in the fifth inning.
The Eagles land back at home on Saturday for game two of the three-game set with the Bruins. First pitch is set for 2 p.m.