3/8/2013 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 265
3/9/2013 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 285
3/10/2013 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 263
FORT MYERS, Fla. – After picking up a pair of mid-week wins over Michigan and Bowling Green at Swanson Stadium, the No. 23 FGCU baseball team continues its stretch of 11-straight home games as it welcomes Western Michigan to Fort Myers beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m.
The Eagles and Broncos continue with a 2 p.m. first pitch on Saturday and follow with a 1 p.m. start on Sunday afternoon.
Coming off the series win over Manhattan last weekend, FGCU climbed two spots in this week’s Collegiate Baseball poll, landing at No. 23 in the media outlet’s Top 30 ranks. It marked the second-straight week the Green and Blue appeared in the poll, after ranking No. 25 by the outlet the previous week. Additionally, the Eagles were named among “others to watch” by Perfect Game for the second consecutive week, and were first among those receiving votes in the latest edition of Baseball America’s Top 25, with 23 votes (26th). The Green and Blue also landed at No. 29 in the National Collegiate Basesball Writers Associaton (NCBWA) top 30 and received seven votes (33rd) in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll.
Following the two mid-week wings, FGCU now sits at 10-3 to begin the year. Behind five RBI from junior Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) and six innings of one-hit baseball from sophomore right-hander Zack Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS), the No. 23 FGCU baseball team took down visiting Michigan, 11-6, on Monday evening. The Green and Blue picked up its third-straight victory with a 7-0 shutout of Bowling Green on Wednesday night.
Preseason A-Sun Pitcher of the Year righty Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS) is set to make his fourth start of the season in the series opener. Sitting at 3-0 this season, the Port Charlotte, Fla. native holds a 0.78 ERA with 16 strikeouts and just two walks in a team-best 23 innings, holding opponents to a .143 batting average. In his last start against Manhattan, Knapp didn’t surrender a hit through the first 4.1 innings of the night, finishing with seven strikeouts and one walk while allowing two unearned runs on three hits in a 94-pitch outing.
Freshman right-hander Michael Murray (West Palm Beach, Fla./Forest Hill HS) will toe the rubber to begin game two of the series, holding a 2-0 record through three appearances (two starts). The first-year arm sits with a 1.56 ERA through his 17.1 innings of work, accumulating eight strikeouts and three walks while keeping hitters to a .219 mark at the plate. In his previous start against Manhattan, Murray went seven scoreless frames and surrendered just a pair of hits and one walk while striking out four hitters, helping the Green and Blue to a 1-0 shutout.
FGCU will utilize Tillery in Sunday’s series finale with the Broncos. The Naples, Fla. product has made three starts this season, holding a 3.07 ERA with seven strikeouts through 14.2 innings on the mound. In his start against the Wolverines last Monday, Tillery improved to 1-1 on the year after allowing just one hit in his six frames on the mound, recording a trio of strikeouts.
The Eagles maintain a .300 team batting average with 75 RBI and 79 runs scored. Five everyday players are sitting about the .300 plateau, led by redshirt senior Brooks Beisner’s (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS/Auburn) .490 mark with 10 runs scored, in addition to team-highs of 16 RBI, four home runs, a .863 slugging and a .542 on-base percentage.
Bednar is connecting a .377 rate with 15 RBI and a team-best 14 runs scored, while senior Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary) holds a .353 average with the second-best on-base percentage (.458), adding six RBI and 10 runs scored. Sophomore Michael Suchy (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast HS) and junior Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS) are hitting .308 and .306, respectively, combining for 23 RBI and 18 runs scored.
Picked to finish fourth in the MAC West this season, the Broncos finished third in the West and fifth overall in the MAC last year with a 14-12 conference record. WMU enters the weekend series with a 3-10 record, most recently defeating Maine, 7-3, on Wednesday night at the Snowbird Classic in Sarasota, Fla.
The Broncos are set to use junior left-hander Steve Laudicina (0-3, 4.02 ERA) in the Friday night opener, followed by redshirt senior lefty Mike Moyer (2-1, 1.56 ERA) on Saturday and sophomore right-hander Will Nimke (0-2, 12.46 ERA) will close the series on Sunday.
On the offensive side, junior outfielder Theo Piccirilli is hitting .364 with five RBI and five runs scored, while sophomore infielder Andrew Sohn is hitting .356 with a team-high seven RBI and one run scored. Freshmen Brandon Cable (.310) and Kurt Hoekstra (.300) are also above the .300 mark this season for the Broncos.
The three-game set will mark the first meetings between the two programs.
Tickets for all home contests are available online at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com/tickets or by calling the FGCU ticket office at 239-590-7145.
Friday, Mar. 8 – 6:30 p.m.
FGCU – RHP Ricky Knapp, Jr. (3-0, 0.78 ERA, 23.0 IP, 16 K, 2 BB, .143 B/Avg.)
WMU – LHP Steve Laudicina, Jr. (0-3, 4.02 ERA, 15.2 IP, 9 K, 6 BB, .281 B/Avg.)
Saturday, Mar. 9 – 2 p.m.
FGCU – RHP Michael Murray, Fr. (2-0, 1.56 ERA, 17.1 IP, 8 K, 3 BB, .219 B/Avg.)
WMU – LHP Mike Moyer, R-Sr. (2-1, 1.56 ERA, 17.1 IP, 11 K, 6 BB, .167 B/Avg.)
Sunday, Mar. 10 – 1 p.m.
FGCU – RHP Zack Tillery, So. (1-1, 3.07 ERA, 14.2 IP, 7 K, 7 BB, .259 B/Avg.)
WMU – RHP Will Nimke, So. (0-2, 12.46 ERA, 8.2 IP, 5 K, 6 BB, .390 B/Avg.)
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.