CLEMSON, S.C. – The FGCU baseball team dropped both games of the Sunday doubleheader with No. 23 Clemson at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson. S.C. The Tigers took game one, 9-3, and came out on top in game two, 7-6.
With the doubleheader losses, the Eagles move to 28-15 overall (17-4 A-Sun) while the No. 23 Tigers improve to 27-17 on the year (11-10 ACC).
“Simply put, Clemson came out and played better than us in the game one,” said head coach Dave Tollett. “I feel that we played better in the last game of the day, but it’s still tough to lose a hard fought game like that one.”
Junior Richie Erath (West Palm Beach, Fla.) got the nod on the mound for the first game of Sunday's doubleheader. The right hander went 5.2 innings and allowed seven runs on nine hits with seven strikeouts, dropping to 5-2 on the season with the loss. Junior Rob Matthews (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) and freshman R.J. Brown (Brandon, Fla.) closed out the final 2.1 innings for the Eagles, each allowing an earned run on a combined three hits and a strikeout by Matthews.
Scott Weismann (4-2) picked up the win for the Tigers, allowing three earned runs on five hits in five innings pitched.
The Tigers jumped out to a two run lead in the bottom of the second inning. Following a single by Jeff Schaus, a double down the left field line by Brad Miller allowed Shaus to score off a fielding error on the play (1-0). Miller scored later in the inning on a double to right center by Wilson Boyd (2-0).
In the next half inning, the Eagles responded with two runs of their own. Junior Mikel Alvarez (West Palm Beach, Fla.) started off the inning with a single up the middle and became the second RBI of A-Sun Preseason Player of the Year Zach Maxfield’s (North Port, Fla.) two-run home run (2-2), his sixth home run of the season.
Clemson doubled their score in the bottom of the third after a leadoff single by Will Lamb. A groundout to first base, a wild pitch, and a walk by John Hinson placed runners on the corners. With two outs, Lamb stole home as Hinson swiped second and a single to left field by Shaus brought Hinson home for the second run of the frame (4-2).
The Blue and Green would plate their final run of the game in the top of the fifth when singles by Alvarez and Tim Roberson (West Palm Beach, Fla.) and a walk by Maxfield had the bases full for the visitors. A sacrifice fly to centerfield by senior Josh Chester (Weston, Fla.) moved Alvarez across the dish (4-3), and would prove to be the Eagles’ last effort at a comeback.
Two runs came across for the Tigers in the bottom of the fifth, and they were able to post single runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. Clemson finished out the ball game with nine runs on 12 hits.
The Eagles recorded three runs on nine hits and were led in the first game by Alvarez, who went 3-for-5 with two runs scored. Maxfield (1-for-3) scored a run and recorded two RBI on the home run, and Chester picked up the other RBI on the sacrifice fly.
Senior Pete Woodworth (St. Petersburg, Fla.) was given the game ball for the second contest of the day. In the no-decision start, the righty went six innings and allowed five runs (four earned) on 11 hits to go with four strikeouts and three walks. Sophomore Jacob Barnes (2-2) was credited with the loss after throwing 1.2 innings and allowing two earned runs on three hits and a walk. Junior Jack Wagoner (Berlin, Conn.) also pitched 0.1 innings in relief, facing just two batters.
Dominic Leone started game two for Clemson and pitched 0.1 innings, allowing three earned runs on nine hits with two walks. The Tigers used three other pitchers in the contest and Alex Frederick (2-1) earned the victory after pitching 1.2 innings of scoreless baseball.
In the bottom of the second inning, the Tigers were able gain an early 1-0 lead. With two outs, a double to left field by Richie Shaffer was followed by a run scoring double to right center by Phil Pohl to give the home squad an early advantage.
FGCU moved head on the scoreboard in the top of the third stanza. Wickens started the inning with a walk, and back-to-back singles from Alvarez and Chester loaded the bases for the Eagles. Both Wickens and Alvarez then crossed the plate on a single up the middle by Maxfield, giving the visitors a 2-1 lead.
Junior Alex Lozada (Estero, Fla.) started of the Eagles next chance at the plate with a bunt single to third base and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Joe Guarnaccia (Weston, Fla.). Lozada would move to third on a groundout, and later come in on a Chester single through the right side of the infield (3-1).
Clemson added a single run to their side of the board in the bottom of the fifth inning. Freeman singled to center field, stole second base, and moved to third on a wild pitch. Shaus landed a single into right field to score Freeman and narrow the FGCU lead (3-2).
The Blue and Green extended the lead in visitor’s portion of the sixth inning. Wickens dropped a single into right field, swiped second and moved to third on a groundout. Chester picked up his second RBI of the game when he singled though the right side to score Wickens (4-2).
The Tigers regained the lead in the bottom of the seventh. Freeman walked, stole second and scored on a double to right center by Hinson (4-3), and a 3-0 wild pitch walked Kyle Parker while moving Hinson to third. A sacrifice fly to left field by Schaus plated Hinson, and Parker scored from third later in the inning on groundout to the shortstop (5-4).
In the top if the eighth inning, the Eagles moved ahead on the scoreboard yet again. After Guarnaccia started the rally with a single to right field, Wickens attempted a sacrifice bunt, but a couple of errors on the play allowed him to reach third base and Guarnaccia to touch the plate (5-5). Wickens tapped the dish later in the inning on double down the right field line by Alvarez, to give FGCU a one-run lead (6-5).
Plating two runs allowed Clemson to change the lead once more in the next half inning. With Addison Johnson on third base, a single to right field by Freeman tied the game at six apiece. Hinson would reach on a fielder’s choice and score later in the inning to give the Tigers a narrow lead heading into the final frame (7-6).
The Eagles went three up, three down in the top of the ninth as the No. 23 Clemson Tigers held on for the one-run victory.
In the second outing of the day, six runs came across the plate for the Blue and Green on 13 hits. Chester went 4-for-5 with two RBI and Alvarez batted 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Wickens was 1-for-3 with three runs scored and Maxfield (1-for-5) picked up two RBI. Lozada and Guarnaccia each scored once, going 2-for-4 and 2-for-3 respectively.
Clemson recorded 15 hits in the contest and moved seven runners around the bases.
The two schools will wrap up the four-game series with the final game on Monday evening. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. from Doug Kingsmore Stadium.