FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU pitching staff supplied its best Atlantic Sun Conference series of the season last weekend against Kennesaw State, culminating with a 14-strikeout performance from sophomore left-hander Brandon Bixler (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) in Sunday’s finale, an effort which garnered one of Louisville Slugger's National Players of the Week honors and the A-Sun Pitcher of the Week award, announced on Monday afternoon.
While this is the first A-Sun weekly honor for Bixler, the second-year hurler earned the Louisville Slugger’s recognition earlier this season for his performance in the 8.2 inning one-hit victory against Bryant (Feb. 26), which featured 12 strikeouts. It also marks FGCU’s third A-Sun Pitcher of the Week, as sophomore righty Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS) earned back-to-back honors following consecutive complete-game shutouts in league action earlier this season.
Closing out the series on the mound, Bixler provided one of his best starts of the year, fanning 14 batters in just seven innings of work while allowing just one hit and one walk in his 105-pitch outing. While not surrendering a hit until the fourth inning, the Oviedo, Fla. product struck out the side in both the second and seventh innings and tallied a streak of six-straight strikeouts from the first through third innings while improving to 3-4 on the year.
The 14 strikeouts were just one off the program record of 15 set by former FGCU Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year and current Chicago White Sox lefty Chris Sale, which he established in a complete-game one-hitter against Belmont on April 23, 2010 at Swanson Stadium.
Through 10 appearances this season, including eight starts, Bixler holds a 4.24 ERA in 46.2 innings of work, accumulating 56 strikeouts and holding opponents to a .153 average at the plate.
The FGCU pitchers recorded a 1.00 ERA and combined for 32 strikeouts with just three walks, while surrender only 13 hits through the trio of games last weekend. Highlighting the effort on the bump was a complete game victory on Friday from Knapp, a 12-strikeout outing from senior righty Jason Forjet (Pembroke Pines, Fla./Nova HS) on Saturday, and the 14 punch outs from Bixler in the finale.
Louisville Slugger’s National Players of the Week
RHP Pat Light, Monmouth
LHP Marco Gonzales, Gonzaga
LHP Brandon Bixler, FGCU
1B Saxon Butler, Samford
DH Bobby Brown, Arizona
The Eagles return to the field on Wednesday, May 2 as in-state foe FIU travels to Swanson Stadium for a non-conference contest beginning at 6:30 p.m. Live stats, in-game Twitter updates (@FGCUBaseball), results and recaps will be available at www.FGCUAthletics.com.