FORT MYERS, Fla. – Following a stretch of five straight non-conference contests, the FGCU baseball team will return to Atlantic Sun Conference action this weekend as second-place Jacksonville travels to Fort Myers, Fla. for a three-game set at Swanson Stadium beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m.
Coming off a series victory over Le Moyne last weekend, the fifth-place Eagles bring a 21-20 overall record, including a 10-8 conference mark, into the opening contest with the Dolphins.
The Blue and Green have significantly increased their productivity during the month of April, holding a team batting average of .337. Throughout the month, the Eagles have outscored their opponents by 20 runs (122-102) and have produced double-figure hits in nine of 15 contests, including three straight.
Having paced the Eagles all season, senior Zach Maxfield (North Port, Fla./North Port HS/Pasco-Hernando CC) continues to do so with his .389 average, in addition to team-highs in hits (65), runs scored (39), RBI (48), doubles (16), home runs (9), slugging percentage (.647) and on-base percentage (.480). Also producing at the dish, junior Javi Sujo (Miami, Fla./Miami Sunset HS/Middle Georgia College), .336, sophomore Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary), .303, and freshman Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS), .331, each sit above the .300 mark this year.
Sitting just two hits shy of 300 for his career, senior Mikel Alvarez (West Palm Beach, Fla./Palm Beach Central HS) is hitting .320 this season with 18 runs scored and a .419 on-base percentage to go with a team-high 31 walks. Alvarez looks to become just the second player in FGCU history to reach the 300-hit mark and just the fifth player in A-Sun history to accomplish the feat.
Senior right-hander Austin Gaines (Dunedin, Fla./Northeast HS/South Florida CC) will get the Friday evening start, holding a 3-1 record and a 4.06 ERA. Entering just his third start of the year, Gaines has sat down 32 batters while holding opponents to a .234 average. Freshman righty Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS) is scheduled to begin the second contest in the series on Saturday. Through six starts, the newcomer has a record of 4-1 with 38 strikeouts in 46.1 innings of work.
Currently second in the A-Sun standings, Jacksonville brings a 24-15 overall and a 14-7 league record into the three-game set with the Eagles. The Dolphins are coming off a series loss to then-No. 18 Stetson last weekend, in which they took only game one of the Saturday doubleheader.
The Dolphins intend to throw senior righty Steve Eagerton (6-0, 4.26 ERA) on Friday, followed by freshman southpaw Tony Mollica (2-2, 4.63 ERA) and senior lefty Matthew Tomshaw (4-3, 4.48 ERA) on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
Jacksonville’s offense is powered by two players hitting above .400. Starting every contest this season, Daniel Gulbransen is batting .416 with a team-high 48 runs scored, while Adam Brett Walker enters with a .405 average and a team-best nine homeruns and 54 RBI.
The Eagles hold an all-time record of 6-3 against the Dolphins. Last season in Jacksonville, Fla., FGCU came away with the series victory after taking a pair of contests in the three-game set.
Following the Friday opener, the teams will continue with a 4 p.m. contest on Saturday and a 1 p.m. first pitch on Sunday. Live stats, in-game twitter (@FGCUBaseball), results and recaps from the weekend contests will be available at www.FGCUAthletics.com. Live audio will also be provided with host Tom James on the call.