A-Sun Regular Season Finale Sends FGCU to Stetson with Tournament Aspirations
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 | by Caleb Baker (@calebaker)
Photo by Dennis Snyder
Photo by Dennis Snyder
Florida Gulf Coast (22-29, 13-12 A-Sun)
Stetson (34-19, 15-10 A-Sun)
5/17/2012 | DeLand, Fla. | Attendance: 352
Florida Gulf Coast0100300116110
Win: KNAPP (8-4) 8.2102206
Loss: Caughel (7-3) 4.274316
DWYER (FGCU) 412100
REEVES (FGCU) 512000
Bruce (STET) 413000

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Atlantic Sun regular season schedule comes to a close this weekend, as the FGCU baseball team wraps up the league slate with a trip to DeLand, Fla. to face Stetson for a three-game set. Battling for one of the six spots in the A-Sun postseason tournament, the Eagles open the series with a 6:30 p.m. start on Thursday evening at Melching Field at Conrad Park.

The series continues with a 6:30 p.m. first pitch on Friday and a 2 p.m. start on Saturday afternoon.

The Eagles (21-29) find themselves in a battle to the finish, as they are currently in a share of sixth place in the A-Sun standings, alongside Mercer at 12-12. The Bears hold the tie-breaker over the Eagles as they are set to host USC Upstate, which sits atop the A-Sun standings, this weekend in Macon, Ga. The top six teams advance to the A-Sun Tournament in DeLand, Fla. (Stetson) on May 23-26.

Securing a league series victory last weekend against Belmont at Swanson Stadium, the Eagles recorded a 1-0 win in the opener behind a complete-game shutout by sophomore right-hander Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS), and followed with a game two 5-4 walk-off victory on a ninth inning RBI single from freshman Zack Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS). The Bruins finished the series with an 8-6 win in last Sunday’s finale.

The Eagles are set to use Knapp in the series opening contest with the Hatters, and will utilize senior right-hander Jason Forjet (Pembroke Pines, Fla./Nova HS) in either the Friday or Saturday contest. The Green and Blue have yet to announce the third starter in the weekend rotation.

Currently second in the A-Sun with a 2.12 ERA, Knapp enters the series opener with a 7-4 record through 97.2 innings pitched, which is also good for second in the league. Holding opponents to a .239 average at the plate, the second-year pitcher has registered 52 strikeouts and issued just 16 walks. Picking up the complete-game shutout against the Bruins, Knapp broke 2010 Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Year and current Chicago White Sox starter Chris Sale’s FGCU single-season record with his third shutout of the season and also passed Sale in career complete games with his fourth of the year. In the contest, the Port Charlotte, Fla. product accumulated five punch outs and issued just one walk in the game.

Ranking in the top 10 in the A-Sun in ERA (2.95), opponent batting average (.249) and innings pitched (82.1), Forjet enters his team-best 14th start while leading the Eagles with 70 strikeouts, which ranks fourth in the league. In his last outing against Belmont, the Pembroke Pines, Fla. product earned a no-decision after tossing 6.1 innings and allowing four runs (one earned) on nine hits while totaling nine strikeouts. Forjet enters the weekend with a 1-4 record after earning eight no-decisions on the year.

Offensively, the Eagles have been led by sophomore Brandon Bednar’s (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) .286 mark, followed closely by classmate Sean Dwyer’s (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS) .273 average. Bednar has scored 27 times and has driven in 23 RBI, while Dwyer leads the squad with a .410 slugging percentage and 75 total bases while driving in 31 RBI and totaling 19 runs scored. Leading the team with eight stolen bases, senior Ryan Gebhart (Waco, Texas/Midway HS/Missouri) also holds a team-high 35 runs scored and a .379 on-base percentage while adding 13 RBI.

The all-time series between the schools shows FGCU with a slim 7-6 edge, including a 4-2 edge when on the road. The Green and Blue hold an all-time mark of all-time record of 86-46 in league action.

Sitting second in the A-Sun with a 15-9 league mark, the Hatters (34-18) come into the series following a sweep of ETSU (W 4-3, W 2-0, W 4-0) last weekend in Johnson City, Tenn. Stetson is led by four hitters above the .300 mark in Sam Kimmel (.342), Ben Carhart (.338), Robert Crews (.305) and Mark Jones (.301). Kimmel leads the team with 38 runs scored, while Carhart has a team-high 36 RBI and Jones has a team-best five home runs. The Hatters are likely to use a rotation of senior righty Lindsey Caughel (7-2, 3.91 ERA) on Thursday, freshman right-hander Josh Powers (4-1, 2.32 ERA) on Friday and senior right-hander Will Dorsey (7-5, 3.24 ERA) in the Saturday finale.

Probable Starters
Thursday, May 17 – 6:30 p.m.
FGCU – RHP Ricky Knapp, So. (7-4, 2.12 ERA, 97.2 IP, 52 K, 16 BB, .239 B/Avg.)
STET – RHP Lindsey Caughel, Sr. (7-2, 3.91 ERA, 78.1 IP, 72 K, 15 BB, .290 B/Avg.)

Friday, May 18 – 6:30 p.m.
STET – RHP Josh Powers, Fr. (4-1, 2.32 ERA, 50.1 IP, 27 K, 7 BB, .246 B/Avg.)

Saturday, May 19 – 2 p.m.
STET – RHP Will Dorsey, Sr. (7-5, 3.24 ERA, 80.2 IP, 57 K, 13 BB, .286 B/Avg.)

A-Sun Weekend Schedule
Lipscomb at Belmont
USC Upstate at Mercer
ETSU at Kennesaw State
Jacksonville at North Florida
FGCU at Stetson

Thursday Clinching Scenarios

Belmont Clinches berth with win AND Mercer loss AND FGCU loss
FGCU No clinching or elimination available
Kennesaw State Clinches berth with win AND Mercer loss OR FGCU loss
Lipscomb Clinches berth with win OR Mercer loss OR FGCU loss (owns all tie-breakers)
Mercer No clinching or elimination available
North Florida Eliminated with loss OR Mercer win OR FGCU win
USC Upstate Clinches No. 1 seed with win AND Stetson loss
Stetson Clinches Berth with win OR Mercer loss

Live stats, in-game Twitter updates (@FGCUBaseball), box scores and recaps from all FGCU events will be available at www.FGCUAthletics.com.