Florida Gulf Coast
5/2/2012 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 167
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FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU baseball team saw its three-game win streak come to an end Wednesday night, as FIU defeated the Eagles 7-4 in a mid-week showdown between in-state rivals at Swanson Stadium.
The loss dips the Green and Blue’s mark to 18-26, while FIU improves to 26-19 with its second win of the season over the Eagles.
All six of FGCU’s hits came in the first four innings, as senior right-hander Christian Malbrough (1-1) came on in the bottom of the fifth and tossed four scoreless innings to earn the win on the mound. Junior lefty Michael Gomez entered in the ninth and converted his 12th save of the season to rank tied for sixth in the nation.
Sophomore Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS) and redshirt freshman Alex Diaz (Miami, Fla./John A. Ferguson HS) each had multi-hit nights for the Eagles that included an extra-base hit apiece. Dwyer’s 2-for-3 evening included a run-scoring triple, while the multi-hit game was his team-best 13th of the season and his seventh in the last 11 contests. Diaz’s night featured a double and a run scored.
Freshman right-hander Zack Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS) made his second career start on the mound, going three innings in the loss. Tillery (1-1), who won his first career start at No. 6 Miami on April 11, gave up four runs on five hits and struck out two.
After FIU opened the game with two runs during a 31-pitch first inning for Tillery, FGCU responded with two runs of its own in the bottom of the inning. The Eagles took advantage of a leadoff walk to senior Ryan Gebhart (Waco, Texas/Midway HS/Missouri) when Dwyer roped a triple down the right field line to start the two-run inning. Dwyer scored the final run of the inning on an error made by the FIU shortstop.
The Panthers took the lead back for good with two more runs in the top of the third to make it 4-2, and knocked Tillery out of the game.
With runners on the corners and no outs in the bottom of the third, sophomore Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) placed a sacrifice bunt down the first base line to score redshirt freshman Kirby Retzer (Boca Raton, Fla./Boca Raton HS) from third to make it 4-3.
FIU plated an insurance run in the top of the fourth, which made the score 5-3, and proved to be the game-winning run.
The Eagles best threat to tie the game came in the bottom of the third when a leadoff single by Diaz and a double to right center field by freshman Dane Wisneski (Jupiter, Fla./Palm Beach Gardens HS/Daytona State) to put a pair of runners in scoring position with no outs. In the next at-bat, junior Tito Mendoza (Miramar, Fla./Cooper City HS/Cowley CC) was able to hit a ground ball to the right side, scoring Diaz to pull the Eagles within one, 5-4. Gebhart then stepped to the plate and hit a shallow fly ball to right field and Wisneski was thrown out at home trying to score on the tag.
Malbrough entered in the fifth and retired the first seven batters he faced to keep the Eagles off the base paths. FIU provided Malbrough with some insurance in the top half of the seventh, as cleanup hitter Jabari Henry drilled a two-run home run deep to left center to give the visitor’s a 7-4 lead. The home run was Henry’s team-high 11th of the season.
FGCU will be back in action on Friday when it heads to Nashville, Tenn. for a crucial three-game Atlantic Sun series at Lipscomb. The Eagles and Bison are tied for fifth in the A-Sun standings at 9-9 in league action. First pitch on Friday is slated for 7 p.m. ET.