FGCU Baseball Heads to New Mexico for Final Non-Conference Series
Thursday, April 19, 2012 | by Caleb Baker (@calebaker)
Photo by Dennis Snyder
Photo by Dennis Snyder
Florida Gulf Coast (15-23)
Lobos (20-18)
4/20/2012 | Albuquerque, N.M | Attendance: 1347
Florida Gulf Coast003000000370
Win: HOUSE (4-3) 7.063325
Loss: KNAPP (5-4) 7.2126533
DWYER (FGCU) 302210
BEDNAR (FGCU) 402000

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Traveling for its final non-conference series of the year, the FGCU baseball team heads to Albuquerque, N.M. to open a three-game weekend set with New Mexico at Isotopes Park, beginning on Friday at 2 p.m. EST.

The teams return to the field for an 8 p.m. EST first pitch on Saturday and conclude the series with a 2 p.m. EST start on Sunday.

After dropping last weekend’s series with Jacksonville, the Eagles travel with a 15-22 (6-9 A-Sun) overall record. Coming off back-to-back wins over nationally-ranked opponents in then-No. 28 FAU (6-5) and then-No. 6 Miami (4-2), the Green and Blue took game one with the Dolphins, 7-3, before falling in the final two games, 3-0, 9-4. Following the series, FGCU moved into a share of sixth place with in the league standings.

Over the last five games, the Eagles have been led at the plate by sophomore first baseman Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS), holding a .444 average. Earning A-Sun Player of the Week honors on Monday, the Tavares, Fla. product recorded 14 total bases over those five games, scoring once and driving in eight RBI with three doubles and a home run in addition to a .778 slugging percentage. In the contest with FAU, Dwyer went 2-for-4 with an RBI and followed with a 1-for-3 outing against the Hurricanes that included the go-head two-run double.

Earning national recognition earlier this week, freshman RHP/INF Zack Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS) was selected as one of College Baseball 360’s Primetime Performers on Tuesday after earning his first career victory over the nationally-ranked Hurricanes. Taking the mound for the first time as a starter after 7.1 innings of relief work through the first 33 games, Tillery gave up his lone run and hits (2) over his seven innings in the top of the first. The Naples, Fla. product then buckled down, tossing six consecutive shutout innings that saw him retire 18 of 19 batters he faced over that span en route to his first career victory.

This weekend, FGCU will likely use a rotation of right-handers in 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 Sunday’s finale.

Leading the Atlantic Sun with a 1.88 ERA, Knapp heads into the series opener with a 5-3 record and opponent average of .211. With back-to-back complete-game shutouts under his belt this season, the Port Charlotte, Fla. product has recorded 37 punch outs and just eight walks while leading the team with 63.1 innings pitched. In A-Sun action last Friday against Jacksonville, Knapp earned third league win after tossing eight innings and allowing one run on seven hits, matching a career-best eight strikeouts and just one walk.

Coming of his second career start in game two against the Dolphins, Anderson opened the first 4.1 innings on the mound, allowing two runs on seven hits and three walks in the losing effort. Holding a 1-5 record and a 4.08 ERA through 13 appearances, the Arcadia, Fla. native has recorded 18 strikeouts in 28.2 frames on the hill. Often utilized as a closer, Anderson also has two saves this season, most recently closing the door in the victory over then-No. 6 Miami.

Once again, Forjet will look to close out the series for the Eagles in the Sunday afternoon meeting. In 10 appearances, including a team-best nine starts, Forjet (0-3) has recorded six no-decisions, totaling a team-high 43 strikeouts and an opponent average of .254 in 54 innings of work. With a 3.50 ERA, Forjet also picked up his fifth career save, and first of the season, preserving the 5-1 victory over then-No. 2 Florida State with two scoreless innings.

For the season, sophomore Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) and senior Ryan Gebhart (Waco, Texas/Midway HS/Missouri) have been leading the team with averages of .281 and .276, respectively. Bednar has tallied 16 RBI and 22 runs scored, while Gebhart leads the team with 27 runs scored, a .402 on-base percentage and seven stolen bases in 10 attempts. Sophomore Andrew Valencia (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) leads the Eagles in all the power categories, with 17 extra-base hits, 56 total bases, a .438 slugging percentage, 30 RBI and six home runs.

New Mexico (19-18, 9-3 MW) enters the series following a two-game mid-week sweep of Texas Tech (6-4, 10-3) and a Mountain West series victory over San Diego State (L 4-3, W 11-4, W 5-1). Currently second in the nation with a .452 batting average, DJ Peterson leads the Lobos at the dish with 10 home runs, 43 RBI, 114 total bases, a .509 on-base percentage and a .781 slugging percentage, while adding 35 runs scored. New Mexico also intends to use three right-handers through the series, with junior Austin House (3-3, 2.49 ERA) toeing the rubber on Friday, and sophomore Josh Walker (4-2, 3.65 ERA) and senior Gera Sanchez (4-1, 2.08 ERA) following on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

The three games over the weekend will mark the first meetings between the two programs.

Probable Starters
Friday, April 20 – 2 p.m. EST
FGCU – RHP Ricky Knapp, So. (5-3, 1.85 ERA, 63.1 IP, 37 K, 8 BB, .211 B/Avg.)
NM – RHP Austin House, Jr. (3-3, 2.49 ERA, 61.1 IP, 55 K, 21 BB, .248 B/Avg.)

Saturday, April 21 – 8 p.m. EST
FGCU – RHP Brady Anderson, Fr. (1-5, 4.08 ERA, 28.2 IP, 18 K, 11 BB, .300 B/Avg.)
NM – RHP Josh Walker, So. (4-2, 3.65 ERA, 44.1 IP, 40 K, 6 BB, .250 B/Avg.)

Sunday, April 22 – 2 p.m. EST
FGCU – RHP Jason Forjet, Sr. (0-3, 3.50 ERA, 54.0 IP, 43 K, 14 BB, .254 B/Avg.)
NM – RHP Gera Sanchez, Sr. (4-1, 2.08 ERA, 34.2 IP, 53 K, 10 BB, .181 B/Avg.)

New Mexico will provide live radio for the trio of games, while live stats, in-game Twitter updates (@FGCUBaseball), results and recaps will be available at www.FGCUAthletics.com.