NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The FGCU baseball team was eliminated from the 2010 Atlantic Sun Conference Championship as they fell to the ETSU Bucs, 12-10, in their third game of the tournament on Friday afternoon at Lipscomb’s Dugan Field at Marsh Stadium.
FGCU dropped to 38-20, while ETSU improved their record to 32-27 on the season. The Eagles, who had not lost to the Bucs since moving to Division I, are now 9-1 all-time against East Tennessee State.
Senior Pete Woodworth (St. Petersburg, Fla.) took the bump in FGCU’s third game of the tournament. The right hander pitched just 2.1 innings and allowed seven runs (seven earned) on seven hits, in the no decision. Sophomores Patrick Nathanson (Maitland, Fla.) and Jason Forjet (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) came in to pitch the final 6.2 innings in relief. Nathanson (5-4) took the loss pitching 4.2 innings and giving up five earned runs with five strikeouts. Forjet went 2.0 innings of shutout baseball, only surrendering one hit.
Chas Byrne (5-6) picked up the win for the Bucs after allowing no runs on one hit and a trio of strikeouts in 3.2 innings.
ETSU, who came into Friday’s matchup trailing FGCU in the all-time series 9-0, jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead in the top half of the second inning. The Bucs exploded for six runs on four hits in the frame, highlighted by three singles and a 3-run double Paul Hoilman.
FGCU responded in the home half of the second inning. With the bases loaded and one out, first Team All Conference middle infielder Stephen Wickens (Whitby, Ontario), who is a quarterfinalist for the Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year Award, hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score junior Luke Smierciak (Gainesville, Fla.) (6-1), who reached base on a single to right field earlier in the frame.
The Bucs would add to their lead in the visitor’s half of the third inning. Kerry Doane singled to right center with one out and advanced to third on Matt Scruggs’ single through the left side. Michael Gonzalez then stepped into the batter’s box and grounded out to second base, plating Doane (7-1).
The Blue and Green would cut into the East Tennessee State lead in the bottom of the third inning. Smierciak sent a 1-1 pitch down the left field line to pick up his 13th double of the season and score junior Zach Maxfield (North Port, Fla.) from third base (7-2).
ETSU increased their lead in the fourth inning. After Andrew Green singled down the right field line and advanced to second base on a balk, Hoilman sent a 2-1 pitch over the fence in left field (9-2) to record his fourth and fifth RBI of the game. The homer was Hoilman’s 25th on the season.
The Eagles were able to trim the East Tennessee State lead down to four runs in the home half of the fourth stanza. Following a walk by junior Mikel Alvarez (West Palm Beach, Fla.) and a single up the middle from fellow classmate Tim Roberson (West Palm Beach, Fla.), Maxfield sent a towering shot (1st pitch of the at-bat) over the left field fence (9-5). The home run was the 11th of the season for Maxfield and his first round tripper of the A-Sun Championships (team’s third).
The Blue and Green exploded for five runs on five hits in the bottom of the sixth inning to take a 10-9 lead. Singles by Alvarez and Roberson and a walk by Maxfield loaded the bases with no outs. Josh Chester (Weston, Fla.) stepped in and sent a sacrifice fly to right field to score Alvarez (9-6) and move Roberson to third base. Austin Gaines (Dunedin, Fla.) then tripled to right center field plating Roberson and Maxfield to cut the ETSU lead down to one run (9-8). Smierciak singled to right field, scoring Gaines to tie the game at 9-9. Joe Guarnaccia (Weston, Fla.) slapped a single to right center field, moving Smierciak to third. Alex Lozada (Estero, Fla.) dropped down a sacrifice bunt to score Smierciak from third base (10-9) and reached on a fielding error by the pitcher.
The Bucs pushed a trio of runs across the dish in the top of the seventh inning to regain the lead (12-10). ETSU scored the three runs on five hits, highlighted by a 2-run home run by Scruggs.
Both teams would be held scoreless in their final two chances at the plate as ETSU went on to claim the victory, 12-10.
Registering 10 runs on 14 hits in the contest, the Blue and Green were led offensively by Smierciak’s 3-for-5, two run, two RBI performance, and Maxfield’s 1-for-3, three run, three RBI, one homer outing. Alvarez went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, while Roberson and Guarnaccia went 3-for-6 and 3-for-5, respectively. Additionally, Gaines batted 1-for-4 with a run and a pair of RBI. The Bucs scored their 12 runs off 16 hits on the day.
FGCU will now await word from the NCAA selection committee to see if they receive an at-large bid into the NCAA Championships. The announcement is set to be made Monday, May 31 at 12:30 p.m. on ESPN.