2/15/2013 | Sarasota, Fla. | Attendance: 310
SARASOTA, Fla. – On the strength of a pair of two-run home runs from redshirt senior Brooks Beisner (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS/Auburn) and six strong innings of work from junior right-hander Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS), the FGCU baseball team rolled to its first victory of the season in a 6-0 shutout of 2012 Super Regional participant St. John’s in the 2013 season opener at the Snowbird Baseball Classic in Sarasota, Fla. on Friday.
The victory puts the Eagles at 1-0 on the year, while St. John’s fell to 0-1 after the opener. The Green and Blue also improved to 8-3 all-time in season openers, including a 4-2 mark since moving to Division I. Opening the season away from its home venue for just the second time in school history, the Green and Blue has now outscored its opponents 104-33 in season openers, a total which includes a 43-20 advantage against D-I foes.
“It was nice to get our first win under our belts,” said head coach Dave Tollett following his 11th season opener at FGCU. “Knapp had yet another strong start on the mound and we saw a very good offensive performance today out of Beisner and others in our lineup. I’m pleased with our performance overall, but there is still room for improvement and that begins with Notre Dame tomorrow afternoon.”
Named the Atlantic Sun Preseason Pitcher of the Year heading into the season, Knapp (1-0) hurled six innings of scoreless baseball against 21 Red Storm hitters, totaling five strikeouts while surrendering just two hits and issuing just one walk in his first victory of the season. In 38 career appearances, the Port Charlotte, Fla. product holds a 15-5 record with a 3.28 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 186.2 innings of work for the Green and Blue.
The Eagles broke open the scoreless affair in the fourth inning following a two-out double to centerfield off the bat of junior infielder Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS). Sophomore third baseman Zack Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS) stepped to the dish and gave the Green and Blue a 1-0 advantage with a single through the left side that scored Bednar from second base. Playing in his first career contest with the Eagles after sitting out the 2012 season due to transfer rules, and in just his second career at-bat, Beisner extended the FGCU lead to 3-0 with a two-run homerun down the left field line that plated Tillery from first base.
FGCU pushed its lead to 6-0 in the top of the sixth after a leadoff double to deep right center from junior Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS). When a fly ball moved Dwyer to third, Bednar connected for a sacrifice fly to right field for the 4-0 edge. Tillery then reached on an infield single just past a diving first baseman, setting up Beisner for his second two-run longball of the contest which moved the Green and Blue advantage to 6-0.
St. John’s threatened in the 7th inning when a ground-rule double to center field and a hit-by-pitch was followed by a groundout to put runners on second and third with two outs. Having entered for Knapp to begin the frame, redshirt freshman Gabe Rivera (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) worked out of the jam on a liner back at the pitcher which ended the scoring threat.
Beisner wrapped up the day going 3-for-4 with four RBI and two runs scored with the two homeruns. Tillery added a 2-for-4 game which included two runs scored and an RBI, while Bednar added a run scored and an RBI in a 1-for-3 game. Dwyer (1-for-4) accounted for the other run on the afternoon, and senior Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary) put two hits on the board in a 2-for-5 day.
St. John’s senior starter LHP Sean Hagan (0-1) was hit with the loss after tossing 5.2 innings and allowing four earned runs on five hits and a walk, registering four strikeouts.
Redshirt junior right-hander Danny Patrick (Jupiter, Fla./Jupiter HS/Pepperdine/Palm Beach State) finished out the final two frames for FGCU and recorded a pair of punchouts.
The Green and Blue return to action on Saturday afternoon as the take on Notre Dame in their second contest at the Snowbird Baseball Classic. Tillery is slated to open the contest against Irish RHP Sean Fitzgerald, with first pitch scheduled for 2:30 p.m. The Eagles close the weekend trio of games with a 1 p.m. rematch against St. John’s on Sunday.
Saturday, Feb. 16 – 2:30 p.m.
FGCU – RHP Zack Tillery, So. (1-1, 3.63 ERA, 17.1 IP, 4 K, 3 BB, .258 B/Avg.)*
ND – RHP Sean Fitzgerald, Jr. (7-3, 3.82 ERA, 70.2 IP, 57 K, 14 BB, .268 B/Avg.)*
Sunday, Feb. 17 – 1 p.m.
FGCU – TBA
STJ – TBA
* 2012 statistics
Fans can get updates and information on FGCU baseball all season long by visiting www.FGCUATHLETICS.com or by following the team on twitter @FGCU_Baseball. Additional information on the Snowbird Baseball Classic is available at www.snowbirdbaseball.info.