FORT MYERS, Fla. – After leveling the game at 1-1 in the home half of the sixth, the FGCU baseball team surrendered two unanswered runs in the top of the eighth inning, falling 3-1 to Columbia on Wednesday night at Swanson Stadium.
The Eagles' record dropped to 8-9 (3-3 A-Sun) on the season, while the Lions upped their mark to 6-3 after taking both of the weeknight contests with the Blue and Green.
Columbia jumped out to a 1-0 lead in its side of the fifth frame. After a single up the middle and a walk put runners on first and second with no outs, another hit through the middle by Jon Eisen put the Lions ahead on the scoreboard as Alex Godshall scored from second base. The Eagles would later work out of bases loaded jam, to keep the deficit at one run.
The home portion of the sixth frame saw the Eagles bring the score back even. Making contact to third base, senior shortstop Stephen Wickens (Whitby, Ontario/Sinclair Secondary) got the inning started by advancing to second base on an overthrown ball by the third baseman. A sacrifice bunt by senior second baseman Mikel Alvarez (West Palm Beach, Fla./Palm Beach Central HS) placed Wickens on third prior to classmate Zach Maxfield’s (North Port, Fla./North Port HS/Pasco-Hernando CC) RBI double down the right field line to tie the game at 1-1.
FGCU kept Columbia off the board in the seventh, but the same could not be said in the eighth as a pair of runs were pushed across the plate. Back-to-back singles and a sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third with one out for eight-hole hitter Godshall, who sent a single through the right side to score the runner from third and advance the runner from second base. The next batter, Mike Fischer connected for a sacrifice fly to right field, moving the second run of the inning home from the third and giving the Lions a 3-1 advantage.
Both schools were held scoreless in the final frame as Columbia went on to the 3-1 victory.
Sophomore lefty Kevin Bryant (Homestead, Fla./South Dade HS) started the evening on the mound for the Eagles and pitched well in his five innings of work, recording four strikeouts and allowing just one earned run on four hits. Bryant factored into a no-decision in his second start of the year.
Entering the game with bases loaded following the departure of freshman lefty reliever Brandon Bixler (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) in the sixth, classmate Harrison Cooney (Vero Beach, Fla./Vero Beach HS) worked his way out of the jam with a swinging strikeout and a 4-6-3 groundball double-play to preserve his scoreless frame.
Replacing Cooney in the seventh, junior southpaw Andrew Swain (Daytona Beach, Fla./Seabreeze HS/Brevard CC) (0-1) was hit with the loss after throwing 1.1 innings and allowing two earned runs on three hits and one strikeout. Senior right-hander Craig Crumbly (Winter Haven, Fla./Lake Region HS) also saw action in the contest, throwing a scoreless 1.2 innings and allowing a pair of hits.
At the plate, the Eagles moved their one run across the plate on four hits. Maxfield tallied an RBI in his 1-for-4 night, and Wickens recorded one run scored.
Columbia’s three runs came off of nine hits, led by Godshall’s 2-for-3 night that included an RBI and a run scored.
The Eagles now look ahead to their next Atlantic Sun Conference series, as Campbell travels to Swanson Stadium for a three-game set beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m. The schools with follow with a Saturday doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. Live stats, in-game twitter (@FGCUBaseball), Cover It Live chat, results and recaps from the contest will be available at www.FGCUAthletics.com.