Senior Day Highlights Return to Swanson Stadium for Vital A-Sun Set with Belmont
Thursday, May 10, 2012 | by Caleb Baker (@calebaker)
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Belmont (30-20, 13-9 A-Sun)
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Florida Gulf Coast (20-28, 11-11 A-Sun)
5/12/2012 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 207
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Belmont000000000080
Florida Gulf Coast10000000X140
PitchingIPHRERBBSO
Win: KNAPP (7-4) 9.080015
Loss: BROOKSHIRE (6-3) 7.041156
BattingABRHRBIBBHR
MITCHELL (BEL) 402000
BEATY (BEL) 402000
TILLERY (FGCU) 302100

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Currently in a share of sixth place in the Atlantic Sun Conference standings, the FGCU baseball team returns to Swanson Stadium for a critical three-game series with Belmont, beginning on Friday at 6:30 p.m.

The series continues with 2 p.m. first pitch following Saturday’s Senior Day festivities honoring pitcher Jason Forjet (Pembroke Pines, Fla./Nova HS), outfielder Ryan Gebhart (Waco, Texas/Midway HS/Missouri) and pitcher Patrick Nathanson (Maitland, Fla./Trinity Prep). The two teams are set to close the trio of games with an 11 a.m. start on Sunday.

Audio of all three games in the weekend set will be broadcast on www.FGCUAthletics.com, while video of the Saturday contest will be streamed online at www.ASun.tv.

With just two A-Sun series remaining this season, the Eagles (19-28) bring a 10-11 league record into the weekend set with the Bruins. The top six teams advance to the league tournament and the Green and Blue currently sit alongside Mercer in the standings. However, the Bears hold the tie-breaker over the Eagles.

The Green and Blue return to the field following the series loss to Lipscomb last weekend in Nashville, Tenn. FGCU dropped the opening contest with the Bisons in 11 innings, 3-2, but bounced back with an 8-2 victory in the second game. Lipscomb went on to seal the series victory with an 11-0 win last Sunday.

At the plate this season, sophomore Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) continues to lead the Eagles with a .281 average, adding 26 runs scored and driving in 21 RBI. Sophomore Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS) is hitting at a .272 clip, recording 19 runs scored and 31 RBI while leading the team with a .410 slugging percentage. Stealing a team-best eight bases, Gebhart holds a .257 average and also scored a team-high 33 times, in addition to his 13 RBI and team-leading .388 on-base percentage.

The Eagles are set to use a rotation of sophomore right-hander Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS) on Friday, righty Forjet on Saturday and sophomore left-hander Brandon Bixler (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) in Sunday’s finale.

In conference action, Knapp leads the league in innings pitched (57.1) and holds a 1.73 ERA, which is the second-lowest in the A-Sun. Owning three complete games this season, the two-time A-Sun Pitcher of the Week went 8.2 innings in his last start at Lipscomb, allowing two runs on two hits while recording three strikeouts in a no-decision. This season, Knapp (6-4) holds a 2.23 ERA, good for second in the A-Sun, through a team-high 88.2 innings pitched, also second in the league. The second-year pitcher has totaled 47 strikeouts and issued just 15 walks, while keeping opponents to a .238 average at the dish.

Making his final start at Swanson Stadium on Saturday, Forjet enters the contest with a 1-4 record after earning seven no-decisions in his team-high 12 starts. The Pembroke Pines, Fla. product earned his first victory of the season last Saturday at Lipscomb, allowing two runs on seven hits and four strikeouts in 7.1 innings of work. Leading the team with 64 strikeouts, Forjet holds a 3.08 ERA through 76.0 innings pitched with a .242 opponent batting average.

With a league-low opponent batting average of .158, Bixler brings a 3-5 record into the weekend finale with an ERA of 4.26. The Oviedo, Fla. product lowered his ERA to 2.93 and his opponent batting average to .122 in league games. In his last outing at Swanson Stadium, Bixler registered 14 punch outs in seven scoreless innings of one-hit baseball. This season, Bixler has accumulated 59 strikeouts in 50.2 innings of work to rank 26th in the nation in strikeouts per nine innings (10.47).

Belmont travels to Fort Myers with a 30-19 overall record, sitting second in the league with a 13-8 A-Sun mark. The Bruins are coming off a 5-0 road victory over UT Martin on Wednesday evening, after dropping the A-Sun series to UNF (W 6-1, L 4-1, L 6-2) last weekend in Nashville. Belmont is led at the plate by Zac Mitchell’s .360 average with 50 runs scored and 31 RBI. Judah Akers (.307) and Dylan Craig (.304) are also hitting above the .300 mark this season for the Bruins. Belmont has announced a rotation of left-hander Chase Brookshire (6-2, 2.54 ERA) on Friday, right-hander Matt Hamann (3-5, 4.35 ERA) on Saturday and lefty James Buckelew (5-1, 2.31 ERA) in the series finale.

The Eagles lead the all-time series with Belmont, 8-4, including an 5-1 mark at Swanson Stadium. In league action, FGCU holds an all-time record of 84-45.

Probable Starters
Friday, May 11 – 6:30 p.m.
FGCU – RHP Ricky Knapp, So. (6-4, 2.23 ERA, 88.2 IP, 47 K, 15 BB, .238 B/Avg.)
BEL – LHP Chase Brookshire, Jr. (6-2, 2.54 ERA, 74.1 IP, 58 K, 14 BB, .230 B/Avg.)

Saturday, May 12 – 2 p.m.
FGCU – RHP Jason Forjet, Sr. (1-4, 3.08 ERA, 76.0 IP, 64 K, 19 BB, .242 B/Avg.)
BEL – RHP Matt Hamann, Sr. (3-5, 4.35 ERA, 70.1 IP, 48 K, 15 BB, .256 B/Avg.)

Sunday, May 13 – 11 a.m.
FGCU – LHP Brandon Bixler, So. (3-5, 4.26 ERA, 50.2 IP, 59 K, 40 BB, .158 B/Avg.)
BEL – LHP James Buckelew, So. (5-1, 2.31 ERA, 58.1 IP, 24 K, 27 BB, .234 B/Avg.)

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