4/25/2014 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 357
BOX SCORE (PDF)
WP | Mike Murray (10-0): 7.0 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 SO
LP | Brandon Barker (3-3): 3.0 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO
SV | Sterling Koerner (1): 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU baseball team (28-15, 12-4 Atlantic Sun) jumped ahead on A-Sun leader Mercer (32-11, 14-5 A-Sun) early and staved off a comeback effort by the Bears behind a strong performance on the mound from Mike Murray and a stellar relief effort from Sterling Koerner. The 6-5 victory earned Murray his 10th win of the season leaving himself and Chris Sale, who won 11 games in 2010, as the only two pitchers in FGCU history to accomplish that feat.
The Green and Blue move ahead of Mercer in the all-time series now 10-9 with game two of this series scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. tomorrow at Swanson Stadium. Nick Deckert (Tallahassee, Fla./Tallahassee CC) will square off with Grant Papelian, both lefties, on the mound.
Murray (West Palm Beach, Fla./Forrest Hill HS) made his 11th start of the season on Friday evening and despite giving up a season-high four runs, held the potent Mercer offense, who came into this one second in the A-Sun batting .291, scoreless through five innings and pitched into the eighth inning for the seventh time this season. He would close his line with three walks, three strikeouts and three the second most pitches he had all season with 112. His 10th win puts him in a tie with East Carolina’s Ryan Williams for the nation’s lead in victories. Williams however has picked up his 10 victories in 24 appearances against Murray’s 11.
Zack Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS) finished his day a homerun shy of the cycle in a 3-4 effort, drove in two runs and scored once. At the top of the order, Jake Noll (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS) went 4-5 at the plate marking the team-leading 13th time he has picked up multiple hits in a game this season. It is also the seventh time he has gotten at least three hits and freshman’s first four-hit performance of the season and subsequently career. In all the Eagles combined for 11 hits and scored all six runs over the first three innings to provide all of the cushion their ace would need in this one.
“When you have a guy on Friday nights that you know as a head coach and you know as teammates that’s going to go out there and give you a chance to win it’s a pretty good feeling,” head coach Dave Tollett said of Murray’s night. “Hey, you can’t win all three if you don’t get the first one, no question this is a big win for us.”
Noll led off the bottom of the first with a hit to get things started for FGCU and Tyler Selesky (Estero, Fla./Estero HS) followed with a walk to put pressure on Mercer starter Brandon Barker right out of the gates. A strikeout would bring Michael Suchy (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast HS) who bounced a ball towards short that skipped off the glove of the Mercer shortstop and caromed into right field for the first of four errors on the night for the Bears which ended up resulting in five unearned FGCU runs. Noll came around to score on the play to make it a 1-0 FGCU lead through one inning of play.
The Eagles would add another run in similar fashion in the bottom half of the second when Cody Hoffner (Sebring, Fla./Broward College) reached on another error by the shortstop to lead off the frame. Hoffner would go on to steal second and following a strikeout, Gage Morey (West Palm Beach, Fla./PB Central) ripped an RBI single up the middle for his only hit of the day to make it 2-0.
The wheels came off for Mercer in the bottom of the third and the Eagles capitalized beginning with a leadoff single from Selesky. Colton Bottomley (Parkland, Fla./Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS) reached on an error bringing up Tillery with one out and two on and that’s when the Naples native smoked a triple down the right-field line to clear the bases and make it 4-0. Hoffner came to the plate and reached on an error for the second time in a row but this time a run came in as a result. With two away now, Morey walked and Alex Diaz (Miami, Fla./John A. Ferguson) singled to bring in the sixth and final FGCU run and at the time giving the Green and Blue a commanding 6-0 lead.
Mercer did not find its way onto the scoreboard until it plated two runs in the sixth. With a 6-2 lead Murray rolled through the seventh and came out to pitch in the eighth with his pitch count nearing 100. He would give up a single and walk before his day was ended in favor of Andris Gonzalez (Miami, Fla./Indian River State College) who faced one batter and gave a hit that scored a run. Garrett Anderson (Arcadia, Fla./DeSoto HS) took over and allowed two more runs to come across before recording two outs. Koerner (Fort Pierce, Fla./John Carrol HS) would come on to get the final out of the inning and preserve the 6-5 lead heading into the ninth.
FGCU put a runner in scoring position in the bottom of the eighth but was unable to push the runner across for some insurance. Koerner went back out to pitch the ninth and retired the side in order to earn his first save of the season in his 15th appearance.
Koerner has now thrown the most innings of any FGCU pitcher that has not made a start this season with 35.0 frames to his credit. The freshman now holds a 3.86 ERA with just four walks against 24 strikeouts in his first season of work.
Once again the Eagles return to action tomorrow at 2 p.m. and will conclude the series with Mercer on Sunday with a 1 p.m. scheduled first pitch.
Tillery and Nick Rivera (Cape Coral, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) will each miss at least one game this weekend due to a violation of team rules.
Full coverage of each game including live stats and internet radio can be found at FGCUAthletics.com. If you can’t reach a computer, follow @FGCU_Baseball on Twitter or “like” FGCU Baseball on Facebook for daily news, photos and a constant stream of live updates during each game.
ATLANTIC SUN CHAMPIONSHIP
For the first time in program history, the FGCU baseball team will play host to the 2014 Atlantic Sun Baseball Championship set to take place May 21-25 at Swanson Stadium. The top eight teams in the standings at the end of the regular season will advance to the championship and compete in a double-elimination style tournament to determine the A-Sun’s automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament. The Eagles are three-time A-Sun Regular Season Champions and finished second in the league last season.
Single-game tickets for FGCU Baseball are available at a cost of $6 for adults and $3 for children. Season tickets and tickets to the 2014 Atlantic Sun Championship are also available. For more information and additional deals, visit FGCUathletics.com/tickets, or call the ticket office at 239-590-7145.