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Knapp Hurls Complete Game in 8-2 Win over No. 13 Florida
|Win: KNAPP (2-0)||9.0||6||2||2||0||4|
|Loss: Jonathon Crawford (0-1)||5.1||0||2||2||2||4|
|Justin Shafer (UF)||3||2||2||0||0||0|
|Zack Powers (UF)||3||0||2||0||0||0|
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – In front of a crowd of 3,643 at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, Fla. on Friday night, Atlantic Sun Preseason Pitcher of the Year junior right-hander Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS) tossed a complete game against No. 13 Florida, leading the FGCU baseball team to an 8-2 victory in the series opener. It marked the first complete game against the Gators since the 2011 season.
The victory moved the Eagles’ record to 3-1 on the year and marked the fifth win over nationally ranked opponent in program history. The win was also the second over the Gators in program history, with FGCU’s other victory in the series coming in the form of a 17-5 win in 2009, when the Gators were ranked No. 9 in the country. Florida, which dropped to 3-3 in the loss, has been nationally ranked in the previous five meetings with FGCU.
“This is a great win. Ricky Knapp went a complete game against Florida and Brooks Beisner with the big hit to put us up 3-1 on the homerun," said head coach Dave Tollett. "It’s big anytime you win up here in Gainesville, and it’s really special when you can win up here on Friday night."
Earning his fifth career complete game, Knapp improved to 2-0 on the year after allowing just two runs on six hits while striking out four hitters in a 92-pitch performance. In his two starts this season, the Port Charlotte, Fla. product holds a 1.20 ERA with nine strikeouts and one walk, while holding opposing hitters to a .163 average in 15 innings of work.
The Gators were the first to put a run on the board in the home half of the second inning. After a single up the middle and a double down the line put runners on second and third with no outs, senior Vickash Ramjit sent a sacrifice fly to center field for the 1-0 lead.
Redshirt senior Brooks Beisner (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS/Auburn) gave the Green and Blue a 3-1 edge in the sixth inning on a deep three-run home run to left center field. After redshirt sophomore Alex Diaz (Miami, Fla./Ferguson HS) led the inning with a hit-by-pitch, senior Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary) earned a one-out walk to setup Beisner with runners on first and second. Down 0-1 in the count, the Punta Gorda, Fla. product connected for a towering drive to left center that cleared the Rowdy Reptiles student section and gave the Eagles a two-run lead.
It marked the third multi-RBI round tripper in four games for Beisner, playing in his first season with the Eagles after sitting out the 2012 season due to transfer rules. For the season, the Eagles’ slugging first baseman is hitting .533 with eight RBI, five runs scored and 18 total bases.
UF cut into the deficit in the bottom of the sixth, again off the bat of Ramjit. Back-to-back singles from sophomore Justin Shafer and redshirt sophomore Zack Powers put runners on second and third, as Powers moved to second on the throw to third base. With no outs in the frame, Ramjit sent his second sac fly into center field to narrow the Eagles lead to 3-2.
The Eagles earned back the run in the top of the eighth inning after freshman Tyler Selesky’s (Estero, Fla./Estero HS) first career hit was followed by a single from Reeves to put runners on the corners with one out. In the next at-bat, an RBI line drive single up the middle from junior Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS) plated Selesky from third to move FGCU in front 4-2. Beisner then stepped to the plate to draw a full-count walk, before junior Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) earned an RBI hit-by-pitch for the 5-2 advantage. With the bases still loaded in the eighth, sophomore Zack Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS) cleared the bags with a double down the left field line to push the Eagles ahead 8-2 on the scoreboard.
FGCU scored eight runs on nine hits while committing one defensive error. Beisner finished the game 1-for-2 with three RBI and two runs scored, while Reeves hit 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Selesky had a 2-for-5 day at the plate and added a run scored, in addition to Dwyer’s 1-for-5 night which included an RBI and a run scored.
UF plated its pair of runs on six hits. Starting the game for the Gators, junior righty Jonathon Crawford (0-1) was hit with the loss after going 5.1 frames and allowing two runs on no hits, issuing a pair of walks and recording four strikeouts.
The two teams will be back in action on Saturday at 4 p.m. for the second contest in the three-game set. Marking his second start of the season, the Eagles will utilize junior lefty Brandon Bixler (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) (0-0, 0.00 ERA) in the contest. Florida will counter with freshman right-hander Tucker Simpson (0-0, 4.50 ERA) on the bump.
Saturday’s game will be available on GatorVision, a live streaming utility at www.GATORZONE.com. A subscription fee is required for access to the contest. The series finale on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. will be aired live on Fox Sun Sports, channel 653 on Directv and 402 on Comcast Xfinity.
Saturday, Feb. 23 – 4 p.m.
FGCU – LHP Brandon Bixler, Jr. (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 4 IP, 6 K, 1 BB, .000 B/Avg.)
UF – RHP Tucker Simpson, Fr. (0-0, 4.50 ERA, 4 IP, 3 K, 2 BB, .143 B/Avg.)
Sunday, Feb. 24 – 12:30 p.m.
FGCU – RHP Michael Murray, Fr. (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 5 IP, 3 K, 1 BB, .222 B/Avg.)
UF – RHP Eric Hanhold, Fr. (0-0, 6.75 ERA, 1.1 IP, 2 K, 0 BB, .250 B/Avg.)