Eagles Ride Momentum into Atlantic Sun Weekend Action with Jacksonville
Thursday, April 12, 2012 | by Caleb Baker (@calebaker)
Photo by Dennis Snyder
Photo by Dennis Snyder
Florida Gulf Coast (15-20, 6-7 ASun)
Jacksonville (12-23, 2-8 ASun)
4/13/2012 | Jacksonville, Fla. | Attendance: 434
Florida Gulf Coast1200130007120
Win: KNAPP (5-3) 8.071118
Loss: WOODS (0-2) 4.074441
DWYER (FGCU) 412311
REEVES (FGCU) 412100
RETZER (FGCU) 402200
HOUCK (JU) 502000
HUXTABLE (JU) 412000
LOOSEN (JU) 412000

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Coming off back-to-back victories over nationally-ranked opponents, the FGCU baseball team will look to ride that momentum into Atlantic Sun Conference action as they travel to Jacksonville for a three-game weekend series at John Sessions Stadium, beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m.

The two teams will continue with a 1 p.m. starts on both Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

Behind a two-hit gem through seven innings from freshman right-hander Zack Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS) in his first collegiate start, the Eagles earned their second-straight victory over a ranked foe with a 4-2 win at No. 6 Miami on Wednesday. The win over the Canes marked the second over a Top 10 opponent in the last week, as the Eagles took down then-No. 2 Florida State, 5-1, in Tallahassee, Fla. on April 4. Additionally, the triumph over the Canes was the second over a ranked opponent in as many days, as the Eagles earned a walk-off win over No. 28 FAU, 6-5, on Tuesday at Swanson Stadium.

Picking up their first-ever win over Miami, the Eagles improved their record to 14-20 this season. After dropping last weekend’s A-Sun series with Mercer, the Green and Blue now sit in sixth place in the league standings with a 5-7 mark. The Eagles jumped up 17 spots to No. 92 in WarrenNolan.com’s latest RPI rankigns, as the A-Sun Conference currently has six teams in the top 100. The Green and Blue also hold a strength of schedule of 24th in country thanks in part to playing seven contests against ranked teams, including five against the nation’s Top 10.

Through the series, FGCU will hand the game ball to a trio of right-handers, starting with sophomore Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS) on Friday, freshman Brady Anderson (Arcadia, Fla./DeSoto County HS) on Saturday, and senior Jason Forjet (Pembroke Pines, Fla./Nova HS) in the Sunday finale.

In his last A-Sun start against Mercer, Knapp extended his home scoreless innings streak to 30 before the Bears tied the contest at 1-1 in the fifth inning. Hit with the loss in the contest, the Port Charlotte, Fla. product moved to 4-3 on the season and now owns a 1.95 ERA, good for fourth in the league, while totaling 29 strikeouts and just seven walks in a team-leading 55.1 innings of work. A two-time A-Sun Pitcher of the Week, Knapp has already recorded two complete-game shutouts in league action this season and has held opponents to a .208 batting average.

Making his first collegiate start in game two of the Mercer series, Anderson was hit with the loss after tossing 4.2 innings, allowing three runs on seven hits with one strikeout and one walk. Through 12 appearances this season, the Arcadia, Fla. product holds a 1-4 record with a 4.07 ERA. Picking up his second save on Wednesday against Miami, Anderson has totaled 16 strikeouts in 24.1 innings this year.

After a solid 111-pitch outing by Forjet 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 it’s A-Sun series with Mercer last Sunday. Starting a team-high eight contests, the Pembroke Pines, Fla. native has earned six no-decisions this season and been the tough-luck loser in both his losses this season. On the year, Forjet holds a 2.77 ERA, which ranks 10th in the A-Sun, with a team-best 40 punch outs in 52 frames on the bump. Forjet also helped the Green and Blue preserve the 5-1 victory over the Noles last week, picking up his fifth career save in the contest.

The Eagles offense has been led by sophomore Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) and senior Ryan Gebhart (Waco, Texas/Midway HS/Missouri), hitting .274 and .272, respectively. Gebhart has stolen a team-best seven bases in nine attempts while scoring a team-high 24 times, and Bednar has come across to score 20 times and driven in 14 RBI. Sophomore Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS) is batting at a .246 clip with 13 runs scored and 19 RBI, while classmate Andrew Valencia (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) leads the team in nearly all the power categories with 17 extra-base hits, six home runs, 30 RBI, .474 slugging percentage and 54 total bases.

In A-Sun Conference action, FGCU owns an all-time record of 79-41, including a 7-5 mark against Jacksonville. The Green and Blue’s record against the Dolphins also includes a 5-1 mark when playing on the road.

Jacksonville heads into the weekend set with a 12-21 overall record, and is currently 10th in the standings with a 2-7 conference mark. The Dolphins have been led at the plate by junior Preseason All-American and A-Sun Preseason Player of the Year Adam Brett Walker’s .300 average, with a team-best six home runs, 63 total bases, 24 runs scored, 28 RBI, .525 slugging percentage and .393 on-base percentage. JU holds a 5.34 team ERA, and intends to use right-handers junior Drew Woods (0-1, 5.16 ERA) and freshman Alex McRae (2-4, 3.62 ERA), respectively, through the opening two contests. The Dolphins have yet to announce a starter for the series finale.

Last season at Swanson Stadium, Jacksonville took the three-game series, 2-1, after earning victories in the opener, 10-7, and the finale, 6-0. The Eagles picked up the game two win, 8-2, behind a strong 106-pitch outing from Knapp.

Probable Starters
Friday, April 13 – 6:30 p.m.
FGCU – RHP Ricky Knapp, So. (4-3, 1.95 ERA, 55.1 IP, 29 K, 7 BB, .208 B/Avg.)
JU – RHP Drew Woods, Jr. (0-1, 5.16 ERA, 29.2 IP, 17 K, 7 BB, .323 B/Avg.)

Saturday, April 14 – 1 p.m.
FGCU – RHP Brady Anderson, Fr. (1-4, 4.07 ERA, 24.1 IP, 16 SO, 8 BB, .287 B/Avg.)
JU – RHP Alex McRae, Fr. (2-4, 3.62 ERA, 49.2 IP, 17 K, 13 BB, .320 B/Avg.)

Sunday, April 15 – 1 p.m.
FGCU – RHP Jason Forjet, Sr. (0-2, 2.77 ERA, 52.0 IP, 40 SO, 14 BB, .235 B/Avg.)

Live video of the Saturday and Sunday contests will be available through the platform at www.ASun.tv. Live stats, in-game Twitter updates (@FGCUBaseball), results and recaps will be available at www.FGCUAthletics.com.