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Three-Run Eighth Ignites 4-1 FGCU Win Over Mercer in Series Finale
|Florida Gulf Coast||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||3||X||4||4||0|
|Win: COONEY (2-2)||1.1||1||0||0||1||2|
|Loss: BARKER (2-3)||1.1||2||3||2||0||0|
FORT MYERS, Fla. – After a solid 111-pitch outing by senior Jason Forjet (Pembroke Pines, Fla./Nova HS) was squandered in the top of the eighth, FGCU was able to respond with three runs in the bottom half of the inning to take the final game of its Atlantic Sun series with Mercer by a 4-1 margin on Saturday at Swanson Stadium.
Forjet kept Mercer off the scoreboard through the first seven innings and was rewarded in the bottom of the seventh when sophomore Andrew Valencia (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) blasted a solo home run over the left field wall to give FGCU a 1-0 lead.
After giving up a hit in the middle of two outs in the eighth, Forjet left with a runner on base and the Eagles leading 1-0. The Bears quickly took advantage of Forjet’s departure, as leadoff man Evan Boyd took a 3-1 pitch from reliever R.J. Brown (Brandon, Fla./Bloomingdale HS) and singled through the left side to score the game-tying run (1-1).
FGCU bounced right back in the bottom of the eighth, though, starting a three-run surge with a perfect suicide squeeze by sophomore Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) that scored freshman Brady Anderson (Arcadia, Fla./DeSoto County HS). With two outs and a pair of runners in scoring position, Valencia struck again, drilling a single into right field that scored both runs and pushed the Eagles’ lead to 4-1.
Sophomore righty Harrison Cooney (Vero Beach, Fla./Vero Beach HS), who picked up the win in Wednesday’s 5-1 triumph at No. 2 Florida State, returned to the hill in the ninth after getting the final out of the eighth. Mercer made things interesting with two runners on with one out before Cooney struck out the final two batters for his second win of the week to move to 2-2.
The win puts FGCU (12-20) one game ahead of Mercer (20-13) in the A-Sun standings at 5-7.
Forjet’s final line of 7.2 innings, four hits, one earned run, two walks and nine strikeouts earned the right-hander his sixth no-decision of the season. Forjet’s nine strikeouts brought his season total to 40 in 52 innings, while he lowered his ERA to 2.77.
On the flipside, Mercer starter David Randall tossed six scoreless frames and was also pinned with the no-decision, as the Bears managed just four base runners off Forjet in the first six innings. After Randall came out of the game, Mercer used five different pitchers out of the pen to get through the seventh and eighth innings. Brandon Barker, who gave up the solo homer to Valencia in the seventh, was charged with the loss after the two runners he left on in the eighth both scored.
Valencia broke out of a 0-for-8 slump with his team-leading sixth home run that highlighted a 2-for-4 day at the dish. The Miami product brought his team-high RBI total to 30. FGCU’s other two hits came from Bednar and freshman Michael Suchy (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast HS). Bednar also had an RBI and extended his hit streak to four games.
Originally scheduled to be on the road Tuesday night, FGCU will now host FAU at Swanson Stadium on Tuesday at 6 p.m.