FORT MYERS, Fla. – In a contest that saw nine pitchers, an hour and eight minute lightning delay and 24 runners cross the plate, the FGCU baseball team was victorious over the UNF Ospreys, 18-6, in a competition that lasted nearly five hours.
Currently ranked 45th in RPI, the Eagles’ record improved to 35-18 overall (23-5 A-Sun) while the Ospreys’ fell to 29-24 overall (14-10 A-Sun).
Entering the competition as the nation’s leader in strikeouts, junior Chris Sale (Lakeland, Fla.) took the mound for his final regular season appearance of the year. The lefty improved to a perfect 10-0 on the season after allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits, to go with seven strikeouts and no walks in six innings of work. Junior Craig Crumbly (Winter Haven, Fla.) and sophomore Jason Forjet (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) combined for the final three innings on the rubber. Crumbly allowed four earned runs on two hits, while Forjet recorded four strikeouts in 2.2 scoreless innings.
George Lott (6-3) started the evening on the hill for UNF and allowed four earned runs on four hits and a walk in the losing effort.
The Eagles took the lead in their first chance at the plate, as four runners came in to score. With runners on the corners following a Stephen Wickens (Whitby, Ontario) double and a Mikel Alvarez (West Palm Beach, Fla.) single, A-Sun Preseason Player of the Year Zach Maxfield (North Port, Fla.) picked up three RBI with his ninth home run of the season (3-0). Senior Josh Chester (Weston, Fla.) followed the home run with a walk and came across for the final run of the inning on a double to left center by junior Austin Gaines (Dunedin, Fla.) (4-0).
FGCU added another run to their total in the bottom of the fourth frame after junior Alex Lozada (Estero, Fla.) led off the inning with a double to dead center field. Later in the inning with two outs, Lozada touched the plate from third base on a single through the left side by Alvarez, giving the Eagles a five-run advantage (5-0).
UNF broke up the shutout in the top of the fifth inning off the bat of David Eldredge. The leadoff batter of the inning connected with a 1-0 delivery and landed it over the fence in center field for a solo home run (5-1). With two outs later in the frame, T.J. Thompson was able to score from third on a dribbling ground out to the pitcher (5-2).
The Blue and Green erupted for a six-run fifth inning. Maxfield got the ball rolling on the first pitch of the frame, putting the ball into virtual orbit for his 10th home run of the season, and second of the contest (6-2). Chester and junior Luke Smierciak (Gainesville, Fla.) continued the inning with singles, to put runners on first and second with one out. Lozada scored Chester and moved Smierciak to third with a single to shallow right center field, and Smierciak also crossed the plate on fielder’s choice by sophomore Joe Guarnaccia (Weston, Fla.) (8-2). Wickens drew a full count walk prior to Alvarez sending a single into right field to score Guarnaccia from second base and move Wickens to third (9-2). Junior Tim Roberson (West Palm Beach, Fla.) picked up two RBI on a double to right field that scored Wickens and Alvarez, who had moved to second base on a wild pitch (11-2).
The Ospreys rallied for four runs in the visitor’s side of the seventh frame. Thompson touched the dish for the second time in the ball game to move the score to 11-3, and UNF found the bases full when play was halted due to lightning. Following the hour and eight minute delay, Andrew Hannon was able to score on a wild pitch and a double to left field by Preston Hale scored T.J. Gavlik and Sam Perry (11-6).
FGCU matched with four runs of their own in the bottom of the seventh inning. After Lozada was given first base on a walk, Guarnaccia sent a long ball over the fence in left field for a two-run home run, his second of the season (13-6). FGCU found runners on first and second with one out after a walk by Alvarez and a fielding error that put Roberson on first. Chester then connected for a double to left center that scored both base runners and improved the Eagles’ advantage to 15-6.
In their last chance at the plate, the Eagles had the bases full with no outs. A single to the shortstop by Roberson scored Guarnaccia from third (16-6), and a single through the right side by freshman Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario) scored Alvarez and Wickens (18-6). This would prove to be the final scoring of the contest as FGCU held UNF scoreless in the final frame, to claim the 12 run victory.
The Eagles scored 18 runs on 19 hits in the game. Alvarez went a perfect 4-for-4 with four runs scored and two RBI, while Maxfield went 2-for-6 with four RBI, and two runs scored on the two home runs. Chester hit 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBI and Roberson was 2-for-6 at the plate with three RBI and a run scored.
The Ospreys registered six runs on 12 hits in the contest
The teams will be back in action for the final two games of the A-Sun regular season on Friday at Swanson Stadium. The opening pitch of game one of the doubleheader is set for 3 p.m.