FORT MYERS, Fla. – To open the A-Sun Series of the Week, the FGCU baseball team swept a doubleheader with the ETSU Bucs on Saturday afternoon at Swanson Stadium to maintain their stranglehold on first place in the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Eagles took game one, 10-0 (7 inn), and hung on to take game two, 12-7.
With the doubleheader sweep, the Eagles move to 30-16 on the year and 19-4 in A-Sun play and ETSU’s record falls to 27-20 overall and 14-9 against A-Sun competition.
Throwing a solid seven innings, junior Chris Sale (Lakeland, Fla.) improved to 8-0 on the season with the game one victory. The left hander allowed no runs on four hits with 11 strikeouts and one walk, in the winning effort.
Chas Byrne picked up the loss for ETSU after surrendering eight runs (eight earned) on 11 hits and three walks in six innings pitched.
In the first game, FGCU was able to get on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second. Junior Stephen Wickens (Whitby, Ontario) led off the inning with a single up the middle and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. With one out, junior Tim Roberson (West Palm Beach, Fla.) smacked an 0-1 pitch over the fence in right field to give the Eagles the early 2-0 lead. The home run was Roberson’s team-leading 11th homer of the season.
The Eagles would add to their lead in the home half of the fourth. Junior Zach Maxfield (North Port, Fla.) and junior Luke Smierciak (Gainesville,Fla.) smacked singles to put runners on first and second. Junior Austin Gaines (Dunedin, Fla.) picked up a pair of RBI on a double to left center field (4-0). Sophomore Joe Guarnaccia (Davie, Fla.) followed with a single through the left side to plate Gaines from second to give the Blue and Green a 5-0 lead.
The FGCU lead would be extended to a 10-run advantage and the Eagles would go on to run-rule the Bucs, as they exploded for a 5-run seventh inning. The Blue and Green scored five runs on three hits (all singles) and three walks as ETSU used three pitchers in the frame.
In game one, the Eagles got 10 runs on 12 hits and were led by Roberson's 2-for-3 performance. Roberson hit a home run, scored two runs, and picked up three RBI. Smierciak went 2-for-4 with a run scored and three RBI and Gaines hit 1-for-3 with a run scored and a pair of RBI.
Junior Richie Erath (West Palm Beach, Fla.) got the start in game two of the doubleheader and went seven innings, allowing three runs (three earned) on five hits with eight strikeouts in the winning effort.
As game two got underway, the Bucs were able to move one run home in their first chance at the plate. After Erath struck out the leadoff hitter, Andrew Green walked and Paul Hoilman followed with a double to center field to put runners on second and third. Derek Trent picked up an RBI after grounding out to first base, scoring Green from third (1-0).
FGCU was able to get on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first. The Eagles put four runs up on the board on five hits (four singles, one double) to take a 4-1 lead.
In the second inning, both teams were able to score a pair of runs (6-3). Matt Scruggs’ RBI double down the left field line and Andrew Green’s single to the shortstop plated ETSU’s two runs in the frame, while FGCU scored a couple of runs off of Roberson’s 2-run homer to right field.
The Blue and Green added a run in the fourth (7-3) off of a Smierciak single and in the fifth (8-3) thanks to an inside the park home run by Guarnaccia (first of the season), before putting up a trio of runs in the bottom of the sixth. Roberson started the bottom of the sixth with a single to left field and was followed by a Josh Chester (Weston, Fla.) double. With runners on second and third, Maxfield stepped into the batter’s box and blasted a 3-run home run to left field (11-3).
FGCU added their twelfth and final run of the game in the seventh inning. Wickens singled through the left side and Mikel Alvarez (West Palm Beach, Fla.) drew a walk. Chester singled to left field to score Wickens and give the Eagles a 12-3 lead.
ETSU would cut the lead in the later stages of the game. In the visitor half of the eighth, the Bucs put two runs on the board on two hits (12-5) and reduced the deficit to five runs (12-7) in the bottom of the ninth off three hits, but were unable to further cut into the lead as FGCU went on to take the 12-7 win.
FGCU got 12 runs on 17 hits in game two, highlighted by a 3-for-5 game with two runs, a homer, and four RBI by Maxfield. Chester also went 4-for-4 with two runs scored and a pair of RBI and Roberson hit 3-for-5 with a home run, three runs scored, and two RBI. Gaines finished 1-for-4 with two RBI in the second contest of the day.
The Eagles will be back in action at Swanson Stadium on Sunday, May 9th for the final game of the three-game series with ETSU. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.