FGCU Baseball Drops 8-3 Contest with No. 1 Florida in Game Two of Weekend Series
Saturday, March 10, 2012 | by Caleb Baker (@calebaker)
Photo by Dennis Snyder
Photo by Dennis Snyder
Florida Gulf Coast (6-7)
#1 Florida (14-1)
3/10/2012 | Gainesville, Fla. | Attendance: 3413
Florida Gulf Coast000102000361
Win: Johnson (2-0) 6.053306
Loss: BIXLER (2-2) 4.036661
Fontana (UF) 322221
Zunino (UF) 512200

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Surrendering four runs in the bottom of the first inning proved to be too much as the FGCU baseball team dropped game two of the three-game weekend series with No. 1 Florida, 8-3, at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, Fla. on Saturday.

With the game two loss, the Eagles move to 6-7 on the year, while the Gators extend their winning streak to 12 games and sit at 14-1 on the season.

The top-ranked Gators opened the ballgame with four runs in their first chance at the plate. A pair of walks and a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases for Mike Zunino, who sent a single through the left side for a 2-0 lead. The Gators plated two more in the inning on an RBI single from Taylor Gushue and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Austin Maddox.

In the second inning, Florida added another run to the scoring column on a base loaded sacrifice fly to right field by Preston Tucker, giving the Gators a 5-0 lead.

FGCU cut the deficit to 5-1 in the visitor’s side of the fourth. Senior Ryan Gebhart (Waco, Texas/Midway HS/Missouri) opened the inning with a standup double on a sharp liner down the left field line. A groundout to second base by sophomore Andrew Valencia (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) advanced Gebhart to third, and another slow roller groundout to third base from classmate Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS) brought the speedy centerfielder across the plate.

Responding with a run in the home half of the fourth, the Gators took a 6-1 advantage on a very uncommon play. With the bases loaded and one out, a routine pop up to freshman Zack Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS) at third base looked to be simply the second out of the inning, however as junior catcher Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary) jogged out for a mound visit, the runner from third came home to score as the plate umpire never issued a timeout following the out at third.

With his second homerun of the series, Valencia made it a 6-3 game in the top of the sixth inning with a two-run opposite field shot. Following a one-out single by Gebhart into centerfield, Valencia roped a 2-2 pitch just over the fence in right field for his team-leading second home run of the season.

After junior lefty Andrew Polly (Broken Arrow, Okla./Tulsa Union HS/Cowley County CC) picked up his second strikeout of the game in the eighth, a bloop single by Josh Tobias dropped into right field and was followed with a two-run home run by leadoff hitter Nolan Fontana, pushing the Gators lead to five runs, 8-3. Florida then worked a 1-2-3 top of the ninth to come away with the five-run victory.

Sophomore lefty starter Brandon Bixler (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) dropped to 2-2 after throwing four innings and allowing six runs on three hits, adding six walks and one strikeout. Polly tossed the final four innings for the Green and Blue, allowing two runs on four hits with two walks and three strikeouts.

At the plate the Eagles scored three runs on six hits. Gebhart led the offensive effort, going 2-for-4 with two runs scored, while Valencia drove in two RBI and scored once in a 1-for-4 night. Bednar (1-for-4), Reeves (1-for-4) and freshman Michael Suchy (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast HS) (1-for-2) added the Eagles’ other three hits in the contest.

Florida plated eight runs on seven hits and one FGCU error, while matching a season-high eight walks. Starting the game for the Gators, Brian Johnson improved to 2-0 after hurling six innings and allowing three runs on five hits, while registering six strikeouts.

The two squads will return to McKethan Stadium for the series finale on Sunday beginning at 1 p.m. Senior right-hander Jason Forjet (Pembroke Pines, Fla./Nova HS) will start the contest on the mound for the Eagles, while sophomore righty Jonathon Crawford is slated to start for the Gators. The Sunday afternoon contest will be aired live on Fox Sun Sports, channels 653 on Directv and 402 on Comcast Xfinity, in Southwest Florida.

Sunday, Mar. 11 – 1:00 p.m.
FGCU – RHP Jason Forjet, Sr. (0-1, 2.50 ERA, 18.0 IP, 16 SO, 4 BB, .260 B/Avg.)
UF – RHP Jonathon Crawford, So. (1-1, 6.94 ERA, 11.2 IP, 16 SO, 5 BB, .333 B/Avg.)

Select games this season will be using CoverItLive to connect with fans during the contests. Live audio, live chat, live stats, in-game Twitter updates (@FGCUBaseball), results and recaps for the final contest in Gainesville will be available at www.FGCUAthletics.com.