FGCU Handles Kennesaw State, 20-8, in Series Opener
KENNESAW, Ga. – All nine players in the FGCU lineup recorded multi-hit afternoons that featured one run scored and one run driven in, as the Eagles turned in one of the best offensive performances in program history en route to a 20-8 Atlantic Sun series-opening victory at Kennesaw State on Friday afternoon at Stillwell Stadium.
Led by a career-high five hits from senior Mikel Alvarez (West Palm Beach, Fla./Palm Beach Central HS), the Eagles racked up 26 hits – a program Division I record and the second-most in the nine-year history. Six of the 26 hits came in the third inning where FGCU plated eight runs to push its lead to 11-0.
The win is the third in a row for FGCU (18-16), who moves ahead of the Owls for fifth place in the A-Sun standings at 9-7 in the league. The home A-Sun loss is the first of the season for Kennesaw (20-17, 8-7) who entered the game with a 17-6 record at Stillwell Stadium.
Despite now having 85 multi-hit games to his credit, Alvarez’s five-hit game was the first of his career, as the Blue and Green’s leadoff man also scored three times. Senior Tim Roberson (West Palm Beach, Fla./Palm Beach Central HS) fell a single short of hitting for the cycle, going 3-for-5 with his second career triple, fourth home run of the season and four RBI. Freshman Sean Dwyer (Leesburg, Fla./Tavares HS) also added to the 10 extra-base hits by the Eagles with three doubles.
A game removed from blasting a two-run home run deep out of Swanson Stadium, senior Robert Greene (Cape Coral, Fla./Mariner HS) went 3-for-6 with a pair of doubles, two runs and three RBI. Freshman Jake Foley’s (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS) two doubles (2-5) drove in a season-high three runs for the center field who scored twice. Both senior Zach Maxfield (North Port, Fla./North Port HS/Pasco-Hernando CC) and freshman Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) scored three times and had two hits.
Junior Javi Sujo (Miami, Fla./Miami Sunset HS) and sophomore Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/Sinclair Secondary) both went 3-for-6. Sujo’s big day featured two RBI and two runs scored, as he upped his batting average to a team-best .438 clip in A-Sun action. Reeves has multiple hits in six of eight games in April, posting a team-high .471 batting average (16-34) in the third month of the season.
The offensive effort was aided by a successful six-inning outing from senior Austin Gaines (Dunedin, Fla./Northeast HS/South Florida CC) who surrendered five runs off nine hits and two walks, while fanning five. The start was the first of Gaines’ career, as the right-hander improved to 3-1 on the season.
RBI singles from Maxfield and Sujo in the first and Greene’s run-scoring single to center in the second gave FGCU an early 3-0 lead.
FGCU then tacked on eight runs off six hits in the third inning to hold an 11-0 advantage. A hit-by-pitch and back-to-back singles loaded the bases for Foley, who sent a double to left center that scored two. A walk loaded the bases again for Greene’s double down the left line to plate two more runs. A single followed by a fielder’s choice pushed two more across the dish and with two on, Roberson sent his program leading 39th career home run past the left center wall to cap the eight-run frame.
FGCU added four more runs in the fifth and seventh innings and one in the eighth for the 15th 20-run game in program history. The 20 runs equals the program’s Division I record set last season in a 20-11 win at USC Upstate. The Eagles now have 43 hits over their last two games and are 12-4 this season when reaching double figure hits as a team.
Game two of the three-game weekend series will begin at 2 p.m. on Saturday. The Eagles will send hard-throwing junior Jacob Barnes (St. Petersburg, Fla./St. Petersburg HS) to the hill for his fifth start of the season. Barnes has 43 strikeouts through 34 innings. Live stats of tomorrow’s game can be found at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com.
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