FGCU Comeback Effort Falls Short in Series Finale Against Belmont
Sunday, May 13, 2012
Photo by Dennis Snyder
Photo by Dennis Snyder
Belmont (31-21, 14-10 A-Sun)
Florida Gulf Coast (21-29, 12-12 A-Sun)
5/13/2012 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 213
Florida Gulf Coast1000000146161
Win: BUCKELEW (6-1) 7.0112233
Loss: BIXLER (3-6) 1.106671
AKERS (BEL) 512300
DIAMOND (BEL) 412010
RETZER (FGCU) 503210
REEVES (FGCU) 523000

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Trailing 8-2 entering the bottom of the ninth, the FGCU baseball team scored four runs and brought the potential game-winning run to the plate, but came up just short in its comeback effort in an 8-6 loss to Belmont in the Atlantic Sun weekend finale at Swanson Stadium on Sunday.

Despite the loss, the Eagles took the weekend series thanks to winning both games in Saturday’s doubleheader. Standing at 12-12 in the A-Sun, FGCU (21-29) is currently a half-game up on Mercer (32-19, 11-12 A-Sun) for sixth place in the standings with the Bears hosting eighth place UNF later Sunday afternoon. Belmont (31-21) improved to 14-10 in the A-Sun with the win, moving into a tie for third with idle Lipscomb (14-10).

The FGCU bats pounded out a season-high 16 hits, but were doomed by 15 runners left on base and a combined 10 walks issued by the pitching staff. Sophomore left-hander Brandon Bixler (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) had seven of those walks in his 1.1 innings of work, as Belmont owned a 6-1 lead after the top of the second inning with all the runs being charged to Bixler.

Belmont added one run in the fourth and another in the sixth to up its lead to 8-1 behind lefty starter James Buckelew, who scattered 11 hits over seven innings, but gave up just two earned runs.

Buckelew left the game in the eighth when three straight Eagles reached base to leadoff of the frame. Facing a 3-2 count, junior Tito Mendoza (Miramar, Fla./Cooper City HS/Cowley CC) drove in FGCU’s first run since the first inning with a single through the left side that scored junior Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary) to make it 8-2. Unfortunately, that would be the only run the Eagles would plate in the no-out, bases loaded situation, as Belmont reliever Austin Coley buckled down and got two straight strikeouts followed by a fly out to end the threat.

FGCU came right back in the ninth, as freshman Brady Anderson (Arcadia, Fla./DeSoto County HS) and Mendoza supplied RBI singles to cut the deficit to four, at 8-4. After a second Belmont pitching change in the inning, redshirt freshman Kirby Retzer (Boca Raton, Fla./Boca Raton HS) dropped a two-out single into left field to score two more runs to pull FGCU to within 8-6. With Mendoza on third and Retzer at first, sophomore Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS) stepped to the plate representing the potential game-winning run, but grounded out to short to end the game and the comeback.

Buckelew’s lead through seven innings held up, as he improved to 6-1 on the season, while Bixler dropped to 3-6. The Belmont bullpen gave up four runs on five hits in two innings of work, while the FGCU pen had to go 7.2 innings and allowed two runs.

Retzer capped a six-hit weekend by going 3-for-5 with a walk and two runs driven in. Reeves, Mendoza and Valencia also had three-hit afternoons. Reeves scored two runs in his 3-for-5 day, while Mendoza drove in two runs and had a double. Seven of nine positional starters had a hit for the Eagles and their combined 29 hits over the last two games are their most over a two-game span this season.

To honor Mother’s Day, the moms of the FGCU players all threw out the first pitch to their sons prior to the start of the game.

FGCU will play its final non-conference game of the regular season on Tuesday, May 15, when it heads across Alligator Alley to take on Miami (31-18) in Coral Gables. Gametime is slated for 6 p.m.