GAME PREVIEW: No. 5 Mercer vs. No. 4 FGCU - A-Sun Tournament Second Round
Thursday, May 24, 2012 | by Pat Pierson (@pierson_sid)
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Photo by Dennis Snyder
Photo by Dennis Snyder
Mercer (38-20)
at
Florida Gulf Coast (26-29)
5/24/2012 | Deland, Fla. | Attendance: 0
123456789RHE
Mercer000000300342
Florida Gulf Coast1010000024121
PitchingIPHRERBBSO
Win: FORJET (2-4) 9.0433211
Loss: TEASLEY (7-1) 3.132234
BattingABRHRBIBBHR
JOHNSON (MER) 302000
DWYER (FGCU) 513000
BEDNAR (FGCU) 313210

TOURNAMENT CENTRAL
No. 4 FGCU (25-29, 15-12) vs. No. 5 Mercer (38-19, 15-12)
ROUND: A-Sun Tournament (Day 2)
DATE: Thursday, May 24, 2012
CITY: DeLand, Fla.
SITE: Melching Field at Conrad Park (2500)
FIRST PITCH: 7:00 p.m. ET
LIVE VIDEO: www.ASUN.TV
LIVE STATS: www.FGCUATHLETICS.com
LIVE CHAT: www.FGCUATHLETICS.com
TWITTER: @fgcubaseball/#FGCU
A-SUN TWITTER: @atlanticsun/#ASUNBSB
SERIES VS. MERCER: FGCU leads, 9-6
CURRENT STREAK: FGCU, 1
LAST SERIES: Mercer, 2-1 (Apr. 6-7)
UP NEXT: TBD - Depends on outcome of No. 1 Belmont vs. No. 3 Kennesaw State due to a possible five teams still being alive.

#4 FGCU
HEAD COACH: Dave Tollett
OVERALL RECORD: 25-29
A-SUN RECORD: 15-12
CURRENT STREAK: W4
LAST 5 GAMES: 4-1
LAST 10 GAMES: 7-3
TWITTER: @fgcubaseball
PROBABLE STARTER: Jason Forjet, Sr., RHP, 1-4, 3.01 ERA

#5 MERCER
HEAD COACH: Craig Gibson
OVERALL RECORD: 38-19
A-SUN RECORD: 15-12
CURRENT STREAK: W7
LAST 5 GAMES: 5-0
LAST 10 GAMES: 9-1
TWITTER: @MercerBears
PROBABLE STARTER: David Randall, R-Jr., LHP, 4-4. 2.45 ERA

AT A GLANCE
After plating a season-high 12 runs during a convincing win over third-seeded Kennesaw State on the first day of the Atlantic Sun Tournament, fourth-seeded FGCU will look to keep the momentum of its four-game win streak going against fifth-seeded Mercer on Thursday at 7 p.m. The game pins the A-Sun’s two hottest teams against each other, as the Bears have reeled off seven consecutive wins and are 14-1 in their last 15. FGCU owns a 9-6 edge over Mercer in the all-time series, but the Bears have taken the series from the Eagles in each of the last two seasons by a 2-1 margin both times. Live action of Thursday’s game can be seen on www.ASun.TV.

SIZING UP THE FIELD
Despite needing a conference sweep of Stetson in the final weekend of the regular season, FGCU entered the A-Sun Tournament with the best record against the postseason field at 10-5. The Eagles got the better of three of the teams during their three-game sets, highlighted by sweeps of first round opponent Kennesaw State and Stetson. Below is a look at how the A-Sun Tournament field stacks up against one another in the regular season.

FGCU (#4) 10-5
Mercer (#5) 9-6
Belmont (#1) 8-7
Kennesaw State (#3) 7-7
USC Upstate (#2) 5-9
Stetson (#6) 5-10

HITTING STRIDE
Sitting three games under .500 (6-9) in the A-Sun with four weekends of action remaining, FGCU saved its best ball of the season for the final month, going 9-3 in league play to close out the regular season slate. The three FGCU series wins over the last four weekends came against three teams in the A-Sun Tournament field (Kennesaw State, Belmont, Stetson). Six of the 12 games were decided by one run or less, as the Eagles went 5-1 over those contests. Seven different players hit .300 or better over the 12 games, while the pitching staff combined for a solid 3.05 ERA.

LAST TIME WE MET
FGCU and Mercer played a trio of close contests this season at Swanson Stadium (Apr. 6-7) with the Bears taking the first two and FGCU claiming the finale. Hits were at a premium during the series, as FGCU compiled just 19 hits over the weekend and Mercer had 25. Both teams scored nine runs over the three games and both pitching staffs had an ERA under 3.00.

Today’s pitching matchup will be a rematch of the regular series finale, as senior right-hander JASON FORJET will take on Mercer lefty David Randall. Both pitchers received no-decisions in the meeting, as FGCU rallied with three runs in the eighth to take down the Bears, 4-1. Forjet went 7.2 innings, allowing one run on four hits, two walks and nine strikeouts. Randall left the game after six scoreless innings, allowing one hit, two walks with seven punch outs.

DON’T BE FOOLED
Despite having just one win on the year (1-4), senior righty JASON FORJET has had a solid final season. Forjet ranks ninth in the A-Sun with a 3.01 ERA and has a team-high 72 strikeouts over 86.2 innings of work. Forjet has allowed three earned runs or less in 13 of his team-high 14 starts this season and has a pair of double figure strikeout outings.

A-SUN & FGCU IN THE RPI TOP 100
On top of having its top six teams in the conference regular season standings separated by just two games, the Atlantic Sun also boasts six teams in the top 100 of the latest WarrenNolan.com RPI Ratings (May 23). FGCU’s sweep at Stetson, who entered the weekend at No. 39, and A-Sun Tournament victory over Kennesaw State moved the Eagles to No. 92 on the list and jumped their schedule strength to No. 40. Out of FGCU’s 25 wins on the season, 15 have come against teams in the top 100, including victories at No. 1 FSU and No. 14 Miami.

TALE OF TWO SEASONS
A 15th round selection by the San Diego Padres in the 2010 MLB Draft coming out of Tavares High School, sophomore SEAN DWYER has overcome a slow start to his second season in the Green and Blue with a torrid run over the last month and a half. Dwyer is batting .327 since April 1st, with 32 hits, including 12 doubles, over the 27-game span. The in-state product leads the team in extra-base hits (20), doubles (15), triples (2), RBI (36), slugging percentage (.424) and total bases (84).

BREAK OUT THE BATS
After producing just nine double-digit hit games in its first 48 contests of the season, FGCU has now accomplished the feat in five of its last six outings. The Eagles are averaging 11.5 hits over the final five games, highlighted by a season-high 16 hits in the series finale against A-Sun regular season champ Belmont. Over the last six games in which the team his hitting .325, A-Sun All-Freshmen Team choice KIRBY RETZER is at a team-high .417 (10-24) over that span, while six other players are at or above the .300 mark.

KIRBY YOUR ENTHUSIASM
Since inserting redshirt freshman KIRBY RETZER into the everyday starting lineup 20 games ago, FGCU has gone 11-9. The A-Sun All-Freshman team choice hit a team-best .316 during conference regular season action and has a torrid .517 on-base percentage over his last six games. Retzer hit leadoff for the first time in his career in Wednesday’s tournament win over Kennesaw State, extending his hit streak to seven games by going 2-for-5 with a walk, two runs and one RBI.

AT THE A-SUN TOURNAMENT
After Wednesday’s 12-4 triumph over #3 Kennesaw State, the Eagles are 2-2 all-time in the A-Sun Tournament. Eligible for postseason play in 2010, FGCU earned the No. 1 seed in the 2010 A-Sun Tournament after winning its third straight regular season title with a 25-5 record. The Eagles were led by A-Sun Coach of the Year DAVE TOLLETT and Pitcher of the Year CHRIS SALE, defeating sixth-seeded Stetson on the first day, 9-4, behind 11 strikeouts from Sale in his 11th win of the year. FGCU dropped its next to games and narrowly missed an NCAA At-Large berth.

DATE OPPONENT RESULT
May 25, 2010 #6 Stetson W, 9-4 May 27, 2010 #4 UNF L, 13-2 May 28, 2010 #3 ETSU L, 12-10 May 23, 2012 #3 Kennesaw State W, 12-4

YOUTH MOVEMENT
Just four players on this year’s squad have experience in the A-Sun Tournament, while the Eagles sport a starting lineup that features five players new to the program this season. Out of the four players with A-Sun Tournament experience, just senior JASON FORJET has multiple games behind him. Forjet, who will start against Mercer on Thursday night, came out of the pen in two games in the 2010 postseason, tossing 3.2 scoreless innings with just one hit allowed, two strikeouts and the save in FGCU’s opening day win against Stetson.

PITCHER UNIVERSITY
On the eve of the Atlantic Sun Tournament, sophomore RICKY KNAPP became the third FGCU pitcher in the program’s five-year existence in the conference to win the Pitcher of the Year award. Also a unanimous selection to the All-Conference first team, Knapp joins 2008 honoree RICHARD BLEIER and 2010 Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Year and current Chicago White Sox starter CHRIS SALE.

WE’RE GOING STREAKING!
Amidst his 106 innings of work – 2nd most in single-season history – this season, sophomore RICKY KNAPP had a span of 21.2 straight scoreless innings over four starts in April. The streak started at the end of his outing at No. 1 Florida and was bolstered by complete-game shutouts against UNF and ETSU, which resulted in back-to-back A-Sun Pitcher of the Week honors. Over the 21.2-inning span, Knapp allowed just nine hits and issued three walks, while striking out 15.

SUPER SOPHOMORES
Comparing sophomore seasons, RICKY KNAPP currently has an 9-4 record through 15 appearances, including 14 starts, owning a 2.34 ERA in 111.1 innings of work with a .246 opponent batting average. On the flip side, Sale finished with a 7-4 record through 14 appearances, including 12 starts, holding a 2.72 ERA in 89.1 innings pitched with a .246 opponent batting average. Additionally, Knapp passed Sale’s single-season record for innings pitched (103.0) which he set in the 2010 campaign.