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GAME PREVIEW: No. 4 FGCU vs. No. 1 Belmont - A-Sun Tournament Day Three
|Florida Gulf Coast||0||0||1||0||0||3||0||0||0||4||8||1|
|Win: DAVIS (8-1)||2.0||1||0||0||0||1|
|Loss: COONEY (4-3)||1.1||3||2||2||0||0|
No. 4 FGCU (26-29, 15-12) vs. No. 1 Belmont (38-19, 15-12)
ROUND: A-Sun Tournament (Day 3)
DATE: Friday, May 25, 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
A-SUN TWITTER: @atlanticsun/#ASUNBSB
VS. BELMONT: FGCU leads, 10-5
LAST SERIES: FGCU, 2-1 (May 11-13)
WITH A WIN: vs. #3 Kennesaw State - Saturday at 1 p.m. in championship game(s). FGCU would have to lose twice.
WITH A LOSS: vs. #3 Kennesaw State - Saturday at 1 p.m. in an elimination game. Winner would move on to play #1 Belmont in a one game championship.
HEAD COACH: Dave Tollett
OVERALL RECORD: 26-29
A-SUN RECORD: 15-12
CURRENT STREAK: W5
LAST 5 GAMES: 5-0
LAST 10 GAMES: 8-2
PROBABLE STARTER: Andrew Polly, Jr., LHP, 3-2, 6.06 ERA
HEAD COACH: Dave Jarvis
OVERALL RECORD: 37-22
A-SUN RECORD: 17-10
CURRENT STREAK: W1
LAST 5 GAMES: 4-1
LAST 10 GAMES: 7-3
PROBABLE STARTER: Dan Ludwig, Fr., LHP, 5-5, 3.39 ERA
AT A GLANCE
The only team left in the tournament without a loss, fourth-seeded FGCU will look to advance to the championship game of the Atlantic Sun Tournament when it takes on A-Sun regular season champ and top-seeded Belmont on Friday night at Melching Field. The Eagles defeated third-seeded Kennesaw State, 12-4, on the opening day and stayed in the winner’s bracket with a 5-4 walk-off win over fifth-seeded Mercer on Friday evening. Sophomore Andrew Valencia provided the walk-off RBI single with two outs in the ninth, capping a two-run frame for the Eagles that erased a 3-2 deficit against the Bears. FGCU enters Friday night on a season-long five-game win streak, while Belmont has taken 8 of its last 11. Live action of Friday’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
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
A Friday night rain out forced FGCU and Belmont to play three games in two days in May at Swanson Stadium, with the Eagles taking the first two before Belmont avoided the sweep in the finale. The Eagles won the opening despite getting four-hit, but responded with 29 hits over the last two games against the Bruins, their most over a two-game span this season. A-Sun All-Freshman selection ZACK TILLERY provided the game-winning RBI single in both of FGCU’s one-run wins to start the series, highlighted by a walk-off single in game two for the 5-4 victory.
THE THREE AMIGOS
FGCU’s 24 hits over the first two A-Sun Tournaments are its second-most over a two-game span this season. Out of those 26 hits, 14 have come from the trio of senior RYAN GEBHART and sophomores BRANDON BEDNAR and SEAN DWYER. The trio has reached base a combined 23 times over the two wins this week, scoring all four runs in Friday’s win over Mercer and nine total. Gebhart has scored a team A-Sun Tournament record five times, while Bednar has the record with six hits and Dwyer is batting .500. The trio occupied spots 2-4 in the lineup against Mercer, going 8-for-12.
A-SUN & FGCU IN 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 24). FGCU’s sweep at Stetson, who entered the weekend at No. 39, and pair of A-Sun Tournament wins over Kennesaw State and Mercer have moved the Eagles to No. 89 on the list and jumped their schedule strength to No. 40. Out of FGCU’s 26 wins on the season, 16 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 100 points higher since April 1st (.340), with 35 hits, including 12 doubles, over the 28-game span. The in-state product leads the team in extra-base hits (20), doubles (15), triples (2), slugging percentage (.429) and total bases (87).
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 six of its last seven outings, starting with the final two games against Belmont. The Eagles are averaging 11.6 hits over the seven games, highlighted by a season-high 16 hits in the series finale against A-Sun regular season champ Belmont. Over the last seven games in which the team his hitting .327, sophomore BRANDON BEDNAR is hitting a torrid .464 (13-28), while four other players are above the .300 mark.
JACK OF ALL TRADES
Having hit in spots 1-6 in the FGCU lineup and played every infield position at least once this season, sophomore BRANDON BEDNAR leads the squad with a .301 average thanks to 13 hits in his last 28 at-bats. Bednar is 6-for-8 in the A-Sun Tournament with four RBI and two walks, reaching base in 9-of-10 plate appearances. The Stuart, Fla. product has tallied 17 multi-hit games, including 13 two-hit and four three-hit games. Compiling a 13 game hitting streak from April 4-27, Bednar’s four RBI this week are a team record in the A-Sun postseason.
FGCU IN THE A-SUN TOURNAMENT
After Wednesday’s 12-4 triumph over #3 Kennesaw State and Thursday’s dramatic walk-off triumph over Mercer, the Eagles are 3-2 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.
Just four players on this year’s squad had experience in the A-Sun Tournament entering Wednesday, 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 tossed a complete game gem on Friday against Mercer, striking out 11 batters while taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning. Over three career A-Sun Tournament appearances, Forjet has worked 12.2 innings with just five hits allowed and 13 strikeouts. He’s been a part of two of FGCU’s three A-Sun Tournament wins, getting the save against Stetson in 2010 and Friday’s win.