FORT MYERS, Fla. –
Behind seven strong innings from Atlantic Sun preseason Pitcher of the Year Richie Erath (West Palm Beach, Fla./West Palm Beach Central HS)
, the FGCU baseball team picked up a 5-1 win over Big Ten foe Illinois in the series finale on Sunday afternoon at Swanson Stadium.
Erath’s 97-pitch afternoon featured five strikeouts as he picked up his 15th career win. The West Palm Beach, Fla. native scattered eight hits while giving up just one run. Erath finished the outing with five straight scoreless innings.
The win moves FGCU to 3-4 on the young season as it prepares to host its second straight Big Ten team on Wednesday evening. Michigan will visit Swanson Stadium for a single game on Wednesday, March 2. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.
The 10-hit afternoon by the Eagle offensive featured a season-best four extra-base hits which all came in the form of doubles. Freshman Sean Dwyer (Leesburg, Fla./Tavares HS) supplied one of the two-baggers in his 2-for-4 afternoon, while leadoff man Stephen Wickens (Whitby, Ontario/Sinclair Secondary) also went 2-for-4 with a run scored. Senior catcher Robert Greene (Cape Coral, Fla./Mariner HS) had a solid all-around game with a two-run single in the seventh, while throwing out a runner on a steal attempt and picking off a runner at first.
Illinois’ starter Corey Kimes left after four innings with the score tied at 1-1, earning a no-decision on the day. Matt Milroy was the tough-luck loser for the Illini, giving up four runs, including two unearned runs in the sixth which proved to be the game-winners.
With the score tied 1-1 in the sixth and Erath coming off his fourth straight scoreless inning, FGCU plated two runs in the bottom half of the inning to take a 3-1 lead. Junior Javi Sujo (Miami, Fla./Miami Sunset HS/Middle Georgia State) worked a walk to open the inning, while an error on a sacrifice bunt by freshman Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) put to runners in scoring position. A walk to Wickens loaded the bases before senior Tim Roberson’s (West Palm Beach, Fla./West Palm Beach Central HS) grounder hit off the glove of the third baseman for a sure inning-ending out, scoring pinch-runner Alex Diaz (Miami, Fla./Ferguson HS) and Bednar for the 3-1 lead.
After another scoreless top of the seventh from Erath, the Eagles opened the game up on a two-out single by Greene that brought home a pair of runs and made it a 5-1 Eagle edge.
FGCU then turned to senior righty Craig Crumbley (Winter Haven, Fla./Lake Region HS), who kept the Illini off the scoreboard the final two innings to help the Eagles snap a three-game losing streak.
With a large crowd expected for Wednesday night’s game against Michigan, the FGCU Athletic Department is blocking off 200 reserved seats for students with room for additional seats, if available. Tickets will be provided on a first-come, first-serve bases while supplies last, including a limited number of standing room only tickets. Students are encouraged to arrive no later than 30 minutes prior to first pitch. All students get in free with Eagle ID card.