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FGCU Baseball Brings Home Six Atlantic Sun Postseason Honors
FORT MYERS, Fla. – On the eve of the start of the conference tournament, the Atlantic Sun announced its 2013 postseason awards voted on by the league head coaches on Tuesday, as FGCU saw a total of six players honored, including a trio of the All-Conference first team.
Highlighting the Eagles’ postseason honorees, junior Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) was one of only four unanimous choices and joined junior outfielder Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS) and junior right-hander Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS) on the A-Sun All-Conference first team. Sophomore outfielder Michael Suchy (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast HS) was selected as an All-Conference second team member, while right-hander Michael Murray (West Palm Beach, Fla./Forest Hill HS) and infielder Nick Rivera (Cape Coral, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) were both tabbed unanimous All-Freshmen squad choices.
“Its great for these six players and our team to receive this recognition from the A-Sun coaches,” said FGCU head coach Dave Tollett. “These guys have put in the time and effort both on the field and in the classroom and continue to compete at high level. I want to congratulate them for the hard work and dedication that has earned them this recognition.”
Having played all four infield positions for the Eagles and leading them in multiple offensive categories, Bednar earned his first career All-Conference honor as a unanimous first team selection at second base. Swiping a team-best seven stolen bases, the Stuart, Fla. product sits ninth in the A-Sun in batting average (.345), fifth in runs scored (51), second in hits (82) and fifth in doubles (17), numbers which also lead the Eagles. Matching a team-best 46 RBI, Bednar owns a team-high 32 multi-hit games and 13 multi-RBI contests, establishing a 12-game hit streak and reaching base in 19 straight games during the season. Bednar was named an A-Sun Top Returning Hitter entering the season and was tabbed the "best defensive infielder" in the A-Sun by College Baseball Insider.
Hitting in the three-hole for the majority of the season, Dwyer has started all 55 games for FGCU in left field. He is third on team in batting average (.324), hits (68), runs scored (43) and RBI (45), while second in on-base percentage (.418) and first in triples (5). The Tavares, Fla. native has recorded 17 multi-hit games and seven multi-RBI performances, establishing a 12-game hit streak earlier this year. Selected to the A-Sun Preseason All-Conference second team by College Sports Madness, Dwyer was also named an A-Sun Top Returning Hitter entering the year. Helping the Eagles continue a stretch of solid play that has seen 12 wins in the last 13 games, Dwyer hit .455 (10-for-22) with five RBI along with team-highs of eight runs scored and three home runs to earn one of FGCU’s four A-Sun Player of the Week honors this season.
The ace on the mound for the Eagles this season, Knapp is fourth in the A-Sun in ERA (2.02), third in opponents batting average (.232), fifth in inning pitched (93.2) and tied for second in wins (9). Named the 2012 Atlantic Sun Pitcher of the Year and one of two unanimous A-Sun All-Conference first team selections, Knapp leads FGCU in nearly all statistical categories. Rated No. 287 out of the top 500 best draft eligible prospects for 2013 by Perfect Game and slotted No. 10 in Baseball America's list of top prospects in the A-Sun, the Port Charlotte, Fla. native was tabbed an A-Sun Top Returning Pitcher by the league office. Picked as the A-Sun Preseason Pitcher of the Year by multiple outlets, including the league office, Knapp was also named a "top starting pitcher" and the "pitcher you least want to face" by College Baseball Insider. In the contest against Northern Kentucky, Knapp sat down a career-best 12 batters over eight innings, allowing just one run on five hits and three walks in a 124-pitch showing to earn A-Sun Pitcher of the Week recognition for the fourth time in his career, and second this season.
Providing power in the two-hole as of late, Suchy his brought his average up to .320 and has connected for a team-high nine home runs, tying a team-best 46 RBI and scoring 37 times. Also matching Bednar with seven stolen bases this season, Suchy is reaching base at a .391 rate and has a .484 slugging percentage. The Bradenton, Fla. native has played in all 55 games, making 54 starts in the outfield, and sits fourth on the team in batting average. Suchy owns 21 multi-hit games this season and 10-multi RBI games, establishing an eight-game hit streak and reaching base safely in 15 straight games during the year. Suchy hit .529 (9-for-17) with an on-base percentage of .579 and a .941 slugging percentage over the final four games of the regular season against Stetson and USF, bringing in nine RBI and recording team-highs of nine runs scored and two home runs. The effort in the final week of the regular season earned him A-Sun Player of the Week honors for the second time in a three-week span.
The Eagles No. 2 starter throughout the season, Murray is 5-1 on the year after working 79 innings on the mound. The first-year hurler holds a 3.19 ERA, allowing 30 runs (28 earned) on 75 hits and fanning 52 batters. He is second on the team in innings pitched and fourth in strikeouts and has held opponents to a .258 batting average. The West Palm Beach, Fla. native has worked at least five innings in 11 of his 13 starts on the year and has started two of the Eagles’ seven shutouts this season. Earning a no-decision after a strong start against Northern Kentucky (April 27), Murray recorded 11-straight outs to open the contest, surrendering a walk with two outs in the fourth for the first NKU base runner of the game. He went six innings and finished the contest with a pair of runs on three hits and two walks, while recording a career-best 10 strikeouts.
In his true freshman season, Rivera has been highly productive at the plate for the Green and Blue. Competing in 54 games with 49 starts, Rivera sits eighth on the team with a .289 batting average and is second on team with eight homeruns and fifth with 34 RBI. The Cape Coral, Fla. product sports a .391 on-base percentage with a .500 slugging percentage, recording 14 multi-hit games with nine multi-RBI performances. In a critical A-Sun set at North Florida, Rivera provided the offensive power with a 1.067 slugging percentage on the strength of three home runs. Rivera collected a team-high 16 total bases over those three games, adding four RBI and a team-best five runs scored.
To date, FGCU has produced 16 A-Sun All-Conference first team selections, including four unanimous picks, seven All-Conference second team choices and 10 All-Freshmen squad honorees over its six seasons (2008-present) in the league. It’s the third time the Green and Blue have had six student-athletes earn postseason recognition (2009, 2010), trailing only the 2008 squad which had a program-best eight players earn honors.
The second-seeded Eagles (37-18, 19-8 A-Sun) will open play at the A-Sun Championship on Wednesday at 5 p.m. in Deland, Fla. when it takes on seventh-seeded Kennesaw State (26-28, 13-14 A-Sun).
Atlantic Sun Postseason Awards
Player of the Year: Chesny Young, Mercer
Pitcher of the Year: Kerry Doane, ETSU
Freshman of the Year: Patrick Mazeika, Stetson
Coach of the Year: Craig Gibson, Mercer
Atlantic Sun All-Conference First Team
C - Corey Bass (UNF)
1B - Patrick Mazeika (Stetson)
*2B - Brandon Bednar (FGCU)
*3B - Chesny Young (Mercer)
SS - Kal Simmons (KSU)
OF - Sean Dwyer (FGCU)
OF - Derrick Workman (Mercer)
OF - Tyler Marincov (UNF)
OF - Gaither Bumgardner (USC Upstate)
DH - Nick Backlund (Mercer)
*SP - Kerry Doane (ETSU)
*SP - Stephen Janas (KSU)
SP - Ricky Knapp (FGCU)
RP - Dimitri Kourtis (Mercer)
* - Denotes unanimous selection
Atlantic Sun All-Conference Second Team
C - Max Pentecost (KSU)
1B - Clinton Freeman (ETSU)
2B - Joe Wielbruda (UNF)
3B - Peyton Hart (KSU)
SS - Kyle Brooks (UNF)
OF - Andrew Green (ETSU)
OF - Michael Suchy (FGCU)
OF - Donnie Dewees, (UNF)
DH - Drew Adams (Lipscomb)
SP - Chris Anderson (JU)
SP - Brandon Barker (Mercer)
SP - Michael Renner (UNF)
SP - Austin Perez (Stetson)
RP - Chad Sabotka (USC Upstate)
Atlantic Sun All-Freshmen Team
*Patrick Mazeika (Stetson)
*Jeremy Taylor (ETSU)
*Michael Murray (FGCU)
*Nick Rivera (FGCU)
*Kal Simmons (KSU)
*Donnie Dewees (UNF)
*Corbin Olmstead (UNF)
Kevin Phillips (ETSU)
Dylan Dillard (JU)
Alex Liquori (KSU)
Kyle Brooks (UNF)
Logan Spurlin (NKU)
Kevin Fagan (Stetson)
Konner Lutz (Stetson)
Tyler Warmoth (Stetson)
* - Denotes unanimous selection