Ave Maria Travels to Swanson Stadium to Take on No. 23 @FGCU_Baseball on Sunday
Friday, March 15, 2013 | by Caleb Baker
Photo by J. Meric
Photo by J. Meric
Ave Maria (23-10)
#23 FGCU (13-4)
3/17/2013 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 287
Ave Maria1100320018123
Win: Joe Bocchino (5-1) 9.066335
Loss: MURRAY (2-1) 4.065421
Tucker Starkey (AMU) 524100
REEVES (FGCU) 512200

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Looking to continue the best start in Division I program history, the No. 23 FGCU baseball team is set for the 10th contest in its 11-game homestand as it plays host to Ave Maria on Sunday afternoon at Swanson Stadium, beginning at 1 p.m.

Coming off a mid-week home wins over Michigan (11-6) and Bowling Green (7-0), as well as a weekend sweep of Western Michigan (5-2, 3-2 (14 inn.), 10-3) at Swanson Stadium, the Eagles hold a 13-3 record and maintained their No. 23 ranking from a week ago in the Collegiate Baseball Top 30.

For the second time this season, the Eagles appeared in the weekly Top 25 release by Baseball America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA), this week at No. 25. Following the three-game sweep of then-No. 13 Florida (Feb. 22-24) in Gainesville, Fla. earlier this season, the Green and Blue emerged in the ranks for the first time at No. 23 in the Baseball America poll. The Eagles were ranked No. 29 in last week's edition of the NCBWA poll.

The Green and Blue also earned 56 votes (27th) in the USA Today poll and were among “others to watch” (27th) by Perfect Game. Additionally, FGCU was slotted No. 6 in the College Baseball Daily Mid-Major Poll.

FGCU intends to use a combination of arms throughout the Sunday afternoon contest. The Eagles’ pitching staff has combined for a 1.79 ERA, currently good for seventh in the NCAA, while limiting opponents to a .198 mark at the dish with 38 RBI and 45 runs (30 earned) scored in 150.2 innings of work.

Thus far this season, the Eagles are hitting .306 with 91 RBI and 97 runs scored. Redshirt senior Brooks Beisner (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS/Auburn) leads the offensive efforts, ranking 26th in the NCAA with a .444 average, adding a team-best .746 slugging percentage, a .500 on-base percentage, four home runs and 47 total bases. The Punta Gorda, Fla. product has scored 11 times and also tallied a team-best 17 RBI on five doubles and one triple.

Recently named A-Sun Player of the Week by College Sports Madness, junior utility man Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) is hitting at a .406 (28-for-69) clip with team-highs of 17 runs scored and 17 RBI. Helping the Eagles to a 5-0 record last week, Bednar hit .500 (13-for-26) with team-highs of nine RBI, a .577 slugging percentage and 15 total bases, supplying one triple and adding five runs scored.

Junior Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS) holds a .355 average with 14 runs scored and 13 RBI, while senior Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary) sits at the .333 mark with 13 runs scored and eight RBI. Appearing in 15 of the 16 contests, freshman Nick Rivera (Cape Coral, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) claims a .317 batting average with three doubles, bringing in four RBI and scoring six times.

The Gyrenes are set for a Friday night contest and a Saturday doubleheader prior to the contest with the Eagles. Ave Maria, a NAIA member, enters the weekend with a 21-8 overall record, having established a 9-3 mark in The Sun Conference.

AMU heads into the weekend hitting .293 with 140 RBI and 166 runs scored. The Gyrenes offense is sparked by Alex Sanchez, hitting .414 with 24 RBI and 24 runs scored. Trace McDermott has established a .390 average with a team-high 25 RBI while scoring 14 times. Three other players, Kolbe Andrade (.371), Gabe Loweree (.362) and Pete Lesniewski (.344), are also above the .300 plateau this year.

It will mark the first meeting 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.

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.