Eagles Cruise to 11-1 Victory over Jacksonville on Friday Night
|Win: KNAPP (8-2)||7.0||7||1||0||0||4|
|Loss: MADDEN (2-3)||0.0||3||3||3||1||0|
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Receiving seven innings of one-run baseball from junior right-hander Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS), the FGCU baseball team used three multi-run innings and matched a season-best 16 hits en route to an 11-1 victory over Jacksonville on Friday evening at Swanson Stadium in the Atlantic Sun Conference series opener.
The opening victory improved the Eagles’ record to 28-16 overall and 12-7 in league action, while the Dolphins fell to 14-30 (7-12 A-Sun) in the losing effort. The victory also upped the Green and Blue advantage in the all-time series to 9-7.
“The offense got us on the board in the first inning and it allowed Ricky (Knapp) to pitch with a lead early in the game,” said head coach Dave Tollett. “We were able to piece together some hits there in the fourth and again in the sixth to extend our lead, which resulted in a nice all-around Friday night win. We have another tough test tomorrow in (Chris) Anderson, so hopefully we can carry some our offensive production into tomorrow night’s contest.”
Starting the game on the mound for the Eagles, Knapp went seven innings to improve to 8-2, allowing just one run on seven hits and no walks while striking out four. The start lowered the Port Charlotte, Fla. product’s ERA to 1.68 on the year, as he now holds a .223 opponent batting average and a team-best 63 strikeouts in 80.1 innings of work.
FGCU wasted no time putting runs on the board, scoring three in its first chance at the plate. Loading the bases on singles from senior Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary), sophomore Michael Suchy (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast HS) and junior Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS), the first run of the game came on a hit-by-pitch to junior Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS). With the bases still full, redshirt junior Brooks Beisner (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS/Auburn) drew a four-pitch walk to make it 2-0, and freshman Nick Rivera (Cape Coral, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) later scored Suchy on a sacrifice fly ball to right field for the early three-run lead.
Five more runs came across the plate for the Eagles in the fourth to move out in front 8-0. A single from Rivera and a double down the left field line by freshman Tyler Selesky (Estero, Fla./Estero HS) put runners in scoring position for sophomore Zack Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS), who scored Rivera on a bizarre infield double in the hole at short that caromed into foul territory off a diving JU shortstop. Freshman Colton Bottomley (Davie, Fla./Marjorie Stoneman Douglas HS) brought in two RBI on a double down the left field line, and came around to score the fourth run of the inning on another double down the right field line from Reeves. With no outs in the inning and runners on the corners, Reeves was able to score on a groundball double play to push the FGCU advantage to 8-0.
Reaching on a single to short and advancing to second on a throwing error during the play, JU’s Ethan Loosen ended up on third base after a balk. A single in the next at-bat from Zach Houck scored Loosen as the Dolphins recorded their first run of the night.
The Eagles’ lead grew to 11-1 in the bottom of the sixth with three runs in the inning. Tillery reached on a walk and was followed by a hit-by-pitch to Bottomley and another walk to Reeves. Suchy kept the bases loaded and scored Tillery on a single through the left side, and a fielder’s choice groundout to third from Bednar allowed Bottomley to score. The score read 11-1 in favor of the Eagles on a double to left center from Beisner, as Suchy touched the dish.
FGCU retired the Dolphins without surrendering any further runs over the final three innings to wrap up the 11-1 victory.
Redshirt freshman right-hander Clint Knoblauch (Wellington, Fla./Wellington HS) finished the final two scoreless innings, allowing one walk and adding a strike out.
FGCU scored 11 runs while recording 16 hits for the fourth time this season. All nine hitters in the lineup tallied at least one hit in the contest, led by Suchy hitting 3-for-5 with two runs scored and one RBI. Bednar also supplied a 3-for-5 game with one run and one RBI, while Reeves hit 2-for-4 with two runs scored and one RBI. Each providing 2-for-3 nights with two runs scored, Tillery brought in one RBI and Bottomley drove in a pair.
The Dolphins plated one run on seven hits and one FGCU error. Starting the contest on the mound for JU, left-hander Corben Madden (2-3) was issued the loss after failing to record an out in the first inning, surrendering three runs on as many hits and one walk.
The two teams return to Swanson Stadium for a 6 p.m. first pitch on Saturday evening. The Eagles intend to start freshman right-hander Michael Murray (West Palm Beach, Fla./Forest Hill HS) (4-1, 2.80 ERA) opposite JU junior right-hander Chris Anderson (6-4, 2.82 ERA), who was recently named to the 60-man midseason Golden Spikes Award watch list.
FGCU Probable Starters
Sat. - RHP Michael Murray, Fr. (4-1, 11 GP/10 GS, 2.80 ERA, 64.1 IP, 43 K, 12 BB, .250 B/Avg.)
Sun. - RHP Harrison Cooney, Jr. (3-5, 17 GP/1 GS, 2.89 ERA, 46.2 IP, 42 K, 22 BB, .240 B/Avg.)
JU Probable Starters
Sat. – RHP Chris Anderson, Jr. (6-4, 11 GP/11 GS, 2.82 ERA, 79.2 IP, 86 K, 19 BB, .227 B/Avg.)
Sun. – RHP Alex McRae, So. (3-5, 13 GP/11 GS, 3.97 ERA, 70.1 IP, 34 K, 21 BB, .264 B/Avg.)
Live stats, in-game Twitter updates (@FGCU_Baseball), box score results and recaps will be available at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com throughout the weekend. Tickets for all home contests are available online at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com/tickets or by calling the FGCU ticket office at 239-590-7145.
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