Florida Gulf Coast
5/2/2012 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 167
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FORT MYERS, Fla. – Coming off a big Atlantic Sun Conference series sweep last weekend, the FGCU baseball team returns to the field for the “Real Fans Wear Pink” contest on Wednesday, May 2, as in-state foe FIU travels to Swanson Stadium for a non-conference contest beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Pink FGCU Athletics shirts with “Real Fans Wear Pink” on the back will be on sale for $10, with all proceeds going to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. During the game, FGCU Athletics will present a check to Robin Lankford, on behalf of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, for the $1,765 raised over the course of the year.
Wednesday’s game is also “Guns ‘N Hoses Night” at Swanson Stadium, as all Southwest Florida first responders (police, firefighters, EMS, armed forces) get in free with ID.
After sweeping Kennesaw State in league action last weekend, the Eagles head into the mid-week meeting with an 18-25 overall record. Through the trio of games with the Owls, the FGCU pitchers recorded a 1.00 ERA and combined for 32 strikeouts with just three walks, while surrendering only 13 hits. Highlighting the effort on the bump was a complete-game victory on Friday from sophomore right-hander Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS), a 12-strikeout outing from senior righty Jason Forjet (Pembroke Pines, Fla./Nova HS) on Saturday, and 14 punch outs from southpaw Brandon Bixler (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) in the finale which earned him the A-Sun Pitcher of the Week honor and one of Louisville Slugger’s National Players of the Week.
FGCU intends to utilize freshman right-hander Zack Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS) in the contest with the Panthers. In his first collegiate start at No. 6 Miami on April 11, Tillery surrendered just one run and pair of hits, which came 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. This season, Tillery owns a 1-0 record with a 1.88 ERA in 14.1 innings of work, while keeping opponents to a .220 average at the plate.
The Eagles have increased their offensive production over the last 10 games with three players hitting at or above .300 in those contests, led by sophomore Brandon Bednar’s (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) .378 mark with six runs and six RBI. Sophomore Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS) has also come alive as of late, hitting at a .351 clip with 12 RBI, a .568 slugging percentage, five doubles and a home run in those 10 games.
For the season, Bednar leads the team with a .298 average, driving in 20 RBI and scoring 25 times. Senior centerfielder Ryan Gebhart (Waco, Texas/Midway HS/Missouri) sits second the squad with a .279 mark at the plate, leading the team with 32 runs scored, eight stolen bases and a .411 on-base percentage. Dwyer has driven in 29 RBI and has a team-high 63 total bases while hitting .269, while sophomore Andrew Valencia (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) owns a team-leading 31 RBI and six home runs.
FIU takes a 25-18 record into its Tuesday evening contest with Bethune-Cookman. Three regulars are hitting above the .300 mark for the Panthers. Mike Martinez holds a .390 mark with 32 runs scored and 31 RBI. Leading the team with 33 runs scored apiece, Nathan Burns holds a .307 average and TJ Shantz is hitting .302 this season. FIU is likely to throw redshirt sophomore right-hander Eddy Pidermann (7-1, 3.12 ERA) in the contest.
The all-time series between the two schools sits in favor of FGCU, 6-4, including an even 2-2 mark when playing at Swanson Stadium. In the first contest of the home-and-home series this season in Boca Raton, Fla., FIU recorded a 10-3 victory over the Eagles (March 28).
Live stats, in-game Twitter updates (@FGCUBaseball), results and recaps will be available at www.FGCUAthletics.com.