FGCU Finishes Sweep of Stetson; Vaults into Atlantic Sun Tournament
Saturday, May 19, 2012 | by Caleb Baker (@calebaker)
FGCU is a combined 10-5 against the A-Sun Tournament field. (Photo by Dennis Snyder)
FGCU is a combined 10-5 against the A-Sun Tournament field. (Photo by Dennis Snyder)
Florida Gulf Coast (23-29, 14-12 A-Sun)
Stetson (34-20, 15-11 A-Sun)
5/19/2012 | DeLand, Fla. | Attendance: 0
Florida Gulf Coast1000010305101
Win: BROWN (3-0) 3.242202
Loss: Griffin (3-1) 0.113321
DWYER (FGCU) 312210
Crews (STET) 513000

Eagles earn No. 4 seed in postseason

DeLAND, Fla. – Needing a doubleheader sweep on the final day of the regular season to advance to the Atlantic Sun Tournament, the FGCU baseball team did just that with a pair of 5-4 victories at Stetson on Saturday at Melching Field.

The two wins finished off a series sweep of the Hatters, vaulting the Eagles, who entered the weekend on the outside looking in on the A-Sun Tournament, into a three-way tie for fourth place at 15-12 with Stetson (34-21) and Mercer. Due to having a 4-2 combined record against the two fellow fourth place finishers, the Green and Blue earned the No. 4 seed in the upcoming A-Sun Tournament, beating out Mercer’s 3-3 mark and the Hatters’ 2-4 record.

As the A-Sun Tournament’s No. 4 seed, FGCU (24-29) will take on No. 3 seed Kennesaw State (31-23), who finished a half-game up on the Eagles at 15-11. The Eagles swept the Owls earlier this season during their three-game set at Swanson Stadium from April 27-29. The series sweep of Kennesaw State was the beginning of a 9-3 stretch for FGCU over its final four A-Sun series, which came against three postseason squads (KSU, Belmont, Stetson).

“This is just an incredible feeling and I’m so proud of the guys for the heart they showed over the last three days,” said head coach Dave Tollett. “We entered the weekend knowing we had to take two probably three games to have at least a chance to make the postseason and these guys never showed signs of nervousness. We are playing some of our best ball of the season right now and there’s no better time to do it.”

Trailing 4-2 in the top of the eighth of game one, FGCU plated three runs to take its first lead since the second inning, at 5-4. Sophomore Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS), who had four hits in the series and upped his multi-hit game total to a team-high 16, made the Hatters pay for a pair of walks issued earlier in the inning with an RBI single to plate the first run. Sophomore Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) brought home his second RBI of the contest with a bunt down the first base line, while junior Tito Mendoza’s (Miramar, Fla./Cooper City HS/Cowley CC) sac fly to right field allowed Dwyer to score the go-ahead run.

After relieving starter Jason Forjet (Pembroke Pines, Fla./Nova HS) in the fifth frame, junior lefty R.J. Brown (Brandon, Fla./Bloomingdale HS) worked a scoreless eighth in his final inning of work to keep the Eagles in front, 5-4.

FGCU went quietly in the top of the ninth, but handed the ball over to freshman right-hander Brady Anderson (Arcadia, Fla./DeSoto HS), who struck out the final batter of the game in a scoreless ninth for his fourth save of the season and second straight to start the series.

Brown improved to 3-0 with the win, going 3.2 innings in relief with two runs allowed on four hits and two strikeouts. Forjet, who made his team-high 14th start of the year, went 4.1 innings with two runs allowed on eight hits in a no-decision. In game two, it was FGCU jumping to a big lead, plating three runs in the third and two more in the fourth for a 5-0 advantage. All three runs in the third came with two outs, as Bednar made the Hatters pay after intentionally walking Dwyer to load the bases, drilling a two-run single up the middle for his third and fourth RBI of the day. The hero in the two wins against Belmont last weekend, freshman Zack Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS) followed Bednar’s single with one of his own that scored Dwyer to make it 3-0.

The two-run top of the fourth began with a leadoff hit by junior Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary), but was slowed down by two outs. With Reeves on third and sophomore Andrew Valencia (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) on second with two outs, redshirt freshman Kirby Retzer (Boca Raton, Fla./Boca Raton HS) continued to deliver in clutch situations, taking a 1-0 offering from Stetson reliever Austin Perez into left field to score both runs and make it 5-0.

With four strikeouts in his first three innings of work, sophomore left-hander Brandon Bixler (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) ran into trouble in the fourth. The Stetson bats came alive and Bixler issued three walks leading during a four-run fourth for the Hatters that got them right back into the game, at 5-4.

Junior lefty Andrew Polly (Broken Arrow, Okla./Tulsa Union HS/Cowley CC) was the story the rest of the way for the Eagles. Polly allowed three base runners over the final three innings after the Hatters had four runs on two hits and three walks in the fourth. In the seventh, Polly completed the A-Sun Tournament berth clinching win by getting a game-ending double-play to complete the sweep.

The second game of the day was just a seven-inning affair.

Polly tossed 55 pitches over his 3.1 innings, earning his third win (3-2) on the season. Stetson starter Josh Powers was dealt the loss (4-2) after being credited for all five FGCU runs on six hits.

For the day, FGCU had a combined 17 hits, including 10 base knocks in the opener which was its fourth consecutive game with double-digit hits. Combined with his save in game one, Anderson went 3-for-5 on the day with two runs scored. Tillery also supplied three hits, reaching base in 5-of-8 plate appearances, while Bednar’s three-hit afternoon also included four RBI.

For ticket information, game notes and live video and audio coverage of the 2012 Atlantic Sun Baseball Tournament hosted by Stetson University (DeLand, Fla.) stay tuned to www.FGCUATHLETICS.com.