No. 26 FGCU Baseball Begins A-Sun Home Slate with Lipscomb
Wednesday, March 27, 2013 | by Matt Judd
FGCU comes in with a 16-5 record (J. Meric photo)
FGCU comes in with a 16-5 record (J. Meric photo)
Lipscomb (9-18, 1-3 A-Sun)
#26 FGCU (17-5, 3-1 A-Sun)
3/28/2013 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 234
Win: KNAPP (6-0) 6.250027
Loss: HACKETT (1-5) 2.157721
STEWART (LIP) 402000

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Following a 2-1 Atlantic Sun Conference opening series last weekend at ETSU, the No. 26 FGCU baseball team is set to begin it’s A-Sun home schedule when it opens a three-game series with Lipscomb on Thursday at Swanson Stadium, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The Eagles (16-5) and Bisons (9-17) return to the field for a 6:30 p.m. first pitch on Friday and close the series on Saturday with a 10 a.m. opener.

FGCU enters the series following a 13-5 mid-week victory over USF on Tuesday in Tampa, Fla. On the strength of 13 hits and 13 walks, the Eagles were able to push across 13 runs to take down their BIG EAST foe, upping their mark to 6-1 in the all-time series between the two programs.

The Green and Blue stayed in the No. 26 spot in the latest release of the Collegiate Baseball Top 30 poll, announced by the media outlet on Monday afternoon. The Eagles were listed among “others to watch” by Perfect Game for the fourth-straight week and remained No. 11 in the latest edition of the College Baseball Daily Mid-Major Poll.

The Eagles’ pitching staff currently holds a 2.54 ERA with 147 strikeouts and five shutouts, while holding opponents to a .221 average in 194.2 innings of work. For the upcoming three-game set, FGCU has announced a rotation of junior right-hander Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS) on Thursday, junior left-hander Brandon Bixler (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) on Friday and freshman right-hander Michael Murray (West Palm Beach, Fla./Forest Hill HS) in the Saturday finale.

Ranked 30th in the country with a 1.15 ERA through five appearances, Knapp will open the series on Thursday with a .199 opponent batting average and a team-high 30 strikeouts in a team-best 39.0 innings of work. The Port Charlotte, Fla. helped the Eagles pick up a 3-2 victory over ETSU to open up A-Sun play last Friday night at Smith Stadium in Johnson City, Tenn. Improving to 5-0, Knapp tossed eight innings, giving up two runs on seven hits and fanned eight batters.

Bixler (2-1) will take the game ball to the mound in Friday’s contest, sporting a 1.71 ERA a team-best .152 opponent average in 21.0 innings. The third-year southpaw was hit with loss in his start last Saturday against the Bucs, going five innings and allowing three runs on three hits while striking out four. Prior to ETSU in his start against Manhattan (Mar. 3), the Oviedo, Fla. product supplied seven scoreless innings, while punching out 11 batters and walking three in a 93-pitch performance. The 11 strikeouts marked the third time in his career that he had fanned double-digits in a game. 

Starting the final contest in the series for the Green and Blue, Murray (2-1) heads into his meeting with Bucs holding a 3.71 ERA and 14 strikeouts. Currently second on the team with 34.0 innings on the bump, the West Palm Beach, Fla. native has limited opponents to a .248 mark at the plate through his six appearances.

Offensively, the Green and Blue are led by junior utility man Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS), leading the squad with a .389 average and a team-best 35 hits, 24 runs and 21 RBI. The Stuart, Fla. native has connected for a team-high seven doubles and also matched a team-high three triples.

Redshirt senior Brooks Beisner (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS/Auburn) has also been a force in the Eagles lineup, batting .376 with a team-high .600 slugging percentage and four homeruns. The Punta Gorda, Fla. product has driven in 17 RBI on 32 hits.

With 19 RBI and 17 runs scored, junior Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS) is connecting at a .350 clip, adding a trio of home runs and a .430 on-base percentage. Senior catcher Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary) and freshman Nick Rivera (Cape Coral, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) are hitting .341 and .317, respectively, combining for 26 runs scored and 20 RBI.

Lipscomb comes into the three-game series with a 9-17 overall record and a 1-2 record in A-Sun play. The Bisons are coming off a 4-1 defeat at the hands of No. 3 Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn. on Tuesday. Lipscomb have lost 10-of-13 games since March 8th and have given up 10 runs in six games this season, including a season-high 24 against Butler on Mar. 2nd.

The Bisons are led offensively by Noah Chandler, who is connecting at a .325 clip this season with 25 hits to go along with 10 RBI in 21 games played. Aaron Sandoval is the only other player batting over. 300 at .313 with a team-high 30 hits. Tyson Ashcraft has tallied a .288 batting average while Zack Lowery and Joey Cecere are both batting .281 apiece.

Lipscomb is set to send out Davey Hackett on Thursday, Hunter Brothers on Friday and finish with Will Blalock on Sunday. Hackett holds a 1-4 record this season with a 6.67 ERA in 27 innings of work. Brothers enters Saturday with a 2-3 record, with a 7.66 ERA in 24.2 innings pitched. Blalock holds a 0-1 record in six starts, with a 4.50 ERA in a team-high 34 innings pitched.

The all-time series record is 10-5, in favor of the Green and Blue. The last meeting between the two clubs was last season for a three-game series in Nashville, Tenn. and the Bisons took the season series 2-1.

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.