FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Florida Gulf Coast University baseball team will be back in action on Tuesday, April 27 for a mid-week matchup against the Bulls of USF at Red McEwen Field. The matchup, which will be the lone contest of the season between the Eagles and Bulls, is set to begin at 7 p.m.
The meeting with the Bulls will mark the fourth all-time meeting between the two programs with FGCU holding a 2-1 advantage in the series. Last year in Fort Myers (Feb. 28, 2009), the Eagles dealt the Bulls an 8-3 loss. Chris Sale (Lakeland, Fla.) picked up the win in the contest, throwing 7.1 innings, giving up three runs and seven hits, while striking out seven.
The Eagles (26-13, 17-4 A-Sun) enter the matchup having won nine of their last 12 games, including sweeping a 3-game series from Belmont last week.
Through 39 games, FGCU holds a .333 team batting average with nine players hitting above .317. The team is led by A-Sun Preseason Player of the Year Zach Maxfield’s (North Port, Fla.) .384 average with 32 RBI, 34 runs scored, and five home runs. Mikel Alvarez (West Palm Beach, Fla.) is second on the squad with a .372 average to go with his 30 RBI, 37 runs, and 11 stolen bases. Tim Roberson (West Palm Beach, Fla.), FGCU’s leader in homers (8), and Luke Smierciak (Gainesville, Fla.) have combined for 82 runs, 76 RBI, and are hitting .320 and .356, respectively. The Blue and Green have outscored their opponents 323-225 thus far and have a pitching staff that has an ERA of 5.07 and struck out 335 batters while walking 133.
USF (19-21 overall), led by head coach Lelo Pardo, sits at 10-5 in BIG EAST play placing them in a three-way tie with Rutgers and St. John's three games behind conference pace setter Connecticut. USF will turn to sophomore Matt Reed (1-0; 2.57 ERA) against the Eagles. Reed pitched 6.0 innings in USF’s 9-3 win over Stetson (April 20). The lefty gave up just one run on two hits while throwing just 29 pitches through his first three innings, 40 pitches through four and 49 through five innings. He threw just 62 pitches on the evening (41 were for strikes).
After getting off to a slow start, USF sophomore Todd Brazeal is returning to his 2009 form which earned him Freshman All-America honors. The Tampa, Fla. native went 10-for-18 in five games last week which included a trio of three hit performances which raised his batting average to .278 on the season. The USF offense is led by Stephen Hunt, who is hitting .318 on the season with 13 doubles, six homers, and 32 RBI.