FORT MYERS, Fla. – For the second straight day, No. 14 Stetson rallied in the ninth inning, this time, plating six runs to turn a three-run deficit into a three-run victory, 8-5, over the FGCU baseball team on Saturday afternoon at Swanson Stadium.
Last night, the Hatters broke a 4-4 tie in the ninth with two runs and combined with today’s win have won eighth straight Atlantic Sun series. The Eagles (22-25) move to 11-12 in the A-Sun, while Stetson (36-10) firmly holds on to first place at 19-4.
Spoiled in Stetson’s ninth-inning rally was the 135-pitch outing by freshman Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS). A 44th round selection in the 2010 MLB Draft, Knapp went eight strong innings, allowing just two earned runs while striking out six with one walk. It marked the fourth straight start Knapp has gone six-plus innings, as he left with a 5-2 lead.
The first three batters of the ninth inning reached base for the Hatters before a ground out to senior Zach Maxfield (North Port, Fla./North Port HS/Pasco-Hernando CC) at first base drove home the first run to make it 5-3 with two runners in scoring position.
Controversy struck on the very next at-bat with Robert Crews at the plate. Crews grounded sharply to third baseman Tim Roberson (West Palm Beach, Fla./Palm Beach Central HS) who got third base runner Sean Emory into a rundown. Roberson tossed to catcher Robert Greene (Cape Coral, Fla./Mariner HS), forcing Emory to retreat back towards third base and causing a collision with Roberson off the base path. The home plate umpire deemed interference, allowing the runner to score rather than being the second out.
Now down 5-4 with momentum on its side and runners at the corners, Stetson’s Ben Carhart laced the go-ahead double to right center field to score both runners and give the visitors their first lead of the game, at 6-5. Junior Nick Rickles wasted no
Three different pitchers came on in the ninth for FGCU, but it was senior Austin Gaines (Dunedin, Fla./Northeast HS/South Florida CC) getting the loss on the mound.
FGCU’s senior loaded top-half of the batting order combined to go 10-for-14 with five runs scored and three RBI. Seniors Mikel Alvarez (West Palm Beach, Fla./Palm Beach Central HS), Maxfield and Roberson all had three hits. Maxfield had the team’s lone extra-base hit of the day with his team-leading 19th double to go along with two RBI. Alvarez bumped his career hit total to 307, just four away from Josh Upchurch’s program record of 311. Roberson went 3-for-3 with a pair of walks.
The Eagles held a slim 14-13 edge in hits off of six different Stetson pitchers. For the second night in a row the Hatters’ bullpen came through over the final five innings, limiting FGCU to no runs and just four hits. Junior Robbie Powell (5-1) got the win on the mound after entering in the eighth and retiring the side in order in the ninth.
The third and final game of the weekend series will begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Swanson Stadium. Admission to the game is free.