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Eagles Stay Hot with Walk-Off Win Against Mercer in A-Sun Tournament
|Florida Gulf Coast||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||2||4||12||1|
|Win: FORJET (2-4)||9.0||4||3||3||2||11|
|Loss: TEASLEY (7-1)||3.1||3||2||2||3||4|
FGCU remains only unbeaten team in A-Sun Tournament
DeLAND, Fla. – Entering the bottom of the ninth trailing 3-2, FGCU rallied with two runs in its final at-bat that was capped by a two-out walk-off RBI single by sophomore Andrew Valencia (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) that gave the fourth-seeded Eagles a dramatic 4-3 win over fifth-seeded Mercer on Thursday night on Melching Field at Conrad Park.
FGCU’s season-best fifth straight win keeps the Eagles as the lone unbeaten team remaining in the A-Sun Tournament, setting up a date with the winner of top-seeded Belmont and Mercer on Friday at 7 p.m. Belmont and Mercer, who had won 14 of its last 15, including seven in a row, will square off at 11 a.m. and the winner will have to play its second game of the day against the Green and Blue.
“Tonight was a great baseball game between two teams that are playing their best ball of the season,” said head coach Dave Tollett. “To win a game like this shows a lot of maturity from our young guys, but we had a pair of seniors and a bunch of returners step up big tonight. There’s still a long way to go in this tournament so we’ve got to come back to the park tomorrow night with the same mindset.”
Not to be lost in the fray of the wild walk-off finish is the complete-game gem turned in by senior right-hander Jason Forjet (Pembroke Pines, Fla./Nova HS), who struck out 11 in the game. Forjet retired 15 straight batters from the end of the first into the sixth before Mercer’s first hit of the game broke the streak. His 112-pitch outing also featured four hits, and two walks as he improved to 2-4 and kept his ERA at 3.01.
For the sixth time in the last seven games and the second straight A-Sun Tournament contest, the FGCU bats supplied double figure hits. None of the hits were more critical than the three in the two-run bottom of the ninth that improved the Eagles to 6-1 in their last seven one-run games.
Sophomore Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) followed his three-hit game on Wednesday with a 3-for-3 performance that included a walk and two RBI, highlighted by the game-tying RBI sac fly in the ninth. Sophomore Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS), who scored the game-winning run, went 3-for-5, while senior Ryan Gebhart (Waco, Texas/Midway HS/Missouri) rounded out an 8-for-12 evening for spots 2-4 in the FGCU lineup that all scored four runs. Gebhart, who has reached base in 8-of-10 at-bats in the tournament, scored twice in his 2-for-4 night.
Gebhart reached base for the sixth straight time to open the tournament, working a one-out walk to start the one-run first inning for the Eagles. Dwyer followed the walk with a single into center field before Bednar continued to make good on his RBI opportunities with his third RBI single of the tournament to make it 1-0.
FGCU supplied Forjet with an insurance run in the bottom of the third, as back-to-back two-out singles by Bednar and freshman Zack Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS) jumped started the inning. Junior Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary) came up with the clutch RBI single, driving in Bednar for the 2-0 lead.
Following a one-out walk in the first inning, Forjet was on cruise control into the sixth, retiring 15 straight batters, eight of which came via the strikeout. In the midst of retiring 16 of the first 17 batters of the game, Forjet gave up his first hit with one out in the sixth to DJ Johnson. Forjet eventually got out of the sixth by picking off Johnson at first.
Mercer finally got to Forjet in the seventh, though, as a walk and hit-by-pitch helped the Bears break out of their slump. A sac bunt moved both runners into scoring position before Travis Benn roped a two-run double down the left field line to knot the game at 2-2. Mercer then took its first lead off the game, as Logan Gaines dropped an RBI single into right field to make it a 3-2 game.
The Eagles had their chance to tie the game or take the lead in the seventh, but they left the bases loaded on a Valencia strikeout. Forjet kept FGCU within striking distance, though, working out of a runner in scoring position in the eighth and retiring the side in order in the ninth to set up the comeback.
Fittingly, it was the combo of Gebhart, Dwyer and Bednar that brought the first run of ninth to tie the game at 3-3. Gebhart led off the inning with a single followed by Dwyer’s third single of the game that put runners on the corners with no outs against the previously unbeaten right-hander David Teasley. Bednar then stepped in and drove a ball to right field that easily scored the speedy Gebhart to make it 3-3. A sac bunt by Tillery moved Dwyer to second, and with first base open the Bears walked Reeves to load the paths.
Having struck out in his last at bat against Teasley, Valencia stepped to the plate to face the righty again, but Mercer brought it another right-hander in Dimitri Kourtis. Valencia quickly greeted Kourtis with the walk-off RBI single, taking a 0-1 pitch into right center field for the win.
Teasley worked 3.1 innings and was charged with two runs, including the game-winner, en route to falling to 7-1 on the season with his first loss. Teasley replaced starter David Randall, who gave up two runs on eight hits in 5.1 innings of work.