A-Sun Baseball Action Returns to Swanson Stadium as FGCU Hosts Kennesaw State
Thursday, April 26, 2012 | by Caleb Baker (@calebaker)
Photo by Dennis Snyder
Photo by Dennis Snyder
Kennesaw State (28-18, 12-7 A-Sun)
Florida Gulf Coast (16-25, 7-9 A-Sun)
4/27/2012 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 192
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Florida Gulf Coast00030020X560
Win: KNAPP (6-4) 9.082224
Loss: Josh Carr (8-2) 8.065535
Andy Almonte (KSU) 412000
Ronnie Freeman (KSU) 412000
DWYER (FGCU) 412300

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Returning home from a seven-game road trip, the FGCU baseball team lands back at Swanson Stadium for a key three-game Atlantic Sun Conference series with Kennesaw State this weekend. The Eagles and Owls will open the trio of contests with a 6:30 p.m. first pitch on Friday.

The two teams return to the field on Saturday at 2 p.m. and close the weekend set with a 1 p.m. start on Sunday.

Coming off the seven-game road swing, FGCU enters the weekend with 15-25 overall record, currently in a share of sixth place in the A-Sun standings with a 6-9 league mark. The Green and Blue opened the road trip with a win over then-No. 6 Miami, 4-2, before taking one of three in the league series with Jacksonville (W 7-3, L 3-0, L 9-4). Most recently, the Eagles dropped the three-game set at New Mexico (L 6-3, L 12-6, L 2-1).

The Eagles are set to use a starting rotation of sophomore right-hander Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS) on Friday, senior righty Jason Forjet (Pembroke Pines, Fla./Nova HS) on Saturday, and sophomore southpaw Brandon Bixler (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) on Sunday.

Currently second in the A-Sun with a 2.28 ERA, Knapp enters the series opener with a 5-4 record through 10 appearances, nine of which were starts. Recording back-to-back complete-game shutouts, the two-time A-Sun Pitcher of the Week has accumulated 40 punch outs and held opponents to a .231 average in his team-leading 71.0 innings on the mound. In his last league start at Jacksonville, Knapp went seven strong innings, allowing just one run on seven hits with eight strikeouts in the winning effort.

Making his team-best 11th start on Saturday, Forjet (0-4) will be seeking his first victory of the year after earning six no-decisions this season. Keeping opponents to three runs or fewer in eight of his starts, the Pembroke Pines, Fla. product leads the squad with 48 strikeouts, good for 10th in the A-Sun, in 60.2 of work. With a 3.41 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.

Closing out the series on Sunday, the hard-throwing Bixler will make his 10th appearance and seventh start of the year. Owning a 2-4 record with a 4.99 ERA, the Oviedo, Fla. native has worked 39.2 frames on the bump and sits second on the team with 42 strikeouts, holding the opposition to just a .170 clip at the dish.

Offensively, sophomore Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) and senior Ryan Gebhart (Waco, Texas/Midway HS/Missouri) continue to lead the Eagles, hitting .296 and .276 respectively. With a .401 on-base percentage, Gebhart leads the Green and Blue with 28 runs scored and seven stolen bases, while Bednar sits second on the team with 24 runs scored.

Increasing his offensive production as of late, sophomore Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS) owns a .262 average and has driven in 26 RBI and scored 14 times, adding a trio of home runs while leading the team with 57 total bases. Joining Dwyer in the middle of the order, classmate Andrew Valencia (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) has team-highs of 30 RBI, a .425 slugging percentage, 17 extra-base hits and six home runs, while perfect in his five stolen base attempts which is second on the team.

Sitting second in the A-Sun standings with a 12-6 record, Kennesaw State (28-17) travels to Fort Myers following a pair of mid-week victories over UAB, 8-3, and Savannah State, 9-4. Last weekend in Kennesaw, Ga., the Owls took the league series against Belmont (W 9-8 (10), L 11-1, W 4-3). Four regulars are hitting over .300 this season, with Aaron Dobbs leading the way with a .369 average, 41 runs scored and 29 RBI. Ronnie Freeman is hitting at a .356 clip with 34 runs scored and 43 RBI, while Andy Chriscaden has a team-best 12 home runs and 48 RBI with a .350 average at the dish. The Owls’ rotation will feature right-hander Josh Carr (8-1, 3.66 ERA) on Friday, lefty Kevin Kyle (0-3, 4.00 ERA) on Saturday and righty Kevin McCoy (1-3, 2.23 ERA) in the finale.

The all-time series between the schools sits in favor of FGCU, 8-4, including a 2-1 mark when playing at Swanson Stadium. In league action, the Eagles hold an all-time record of 80-43.

Probable Starters
Friday, April 27 – 6:30 p.m.
FGCU – RHP Ricky Knapp, So. (5-4, 2.28 ERA, 71.0 IP, 40 K, 11 BB, .231 B/Avg.)
KSU – RHP Josh Carr, Sr. (8-1, 3.66 ERA, 66.1 IP, 53 K, 20 BB, .253 B/Avg.)

Saturday, April 28 – 2 p.m.
FGCU – RHP Jason Forjet, Sr. (0-4, 3.41 ERA, 60.2 IP, 48 K, 18 BB, .262 B/Avg.)
KSU – LHP Kevin Kyle, Jr. (0-3, 4.00 ERA, 45.0 IP, 39 K, 18 BB, .280 B/Avg.)

Sunday, April 29 – 1 p.m.
FGCU – LHP Brandon Bixler, So. (2-4, 4.99 ERA, 39.2 IP, 42 K, 35 BB, .170 B/Avg.)
KSU – RHP Kevin McCoy, So. (1-3, 2.23 ERA, 36.1 IP, 37 K, 13 BB, .265 B/Avg.)

Live stats, in-game Twitter updates (@FGCUBaseball), results and recaps will be available at www.FGCUAthletics.com.