JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The bat of senior first baseman Zach Maxfield (North Port, Fla./North Port HS/Pasco-Hernando HS) powered the FGCU baseball team to an Atlantic Sun Conference opening 8-4 victory over UNF in Jacksonville, Fla. on Friday evening.
FGCU moved its record to 5-4 on the year and 1-0 in the A-Sun, while UNF drops to 5-4 (0-1 A-Sun) this season.
The Eagles drove in eight runs on 12 hits led by Maxfield’s 3-for-5 night, which featured two home runs, a double, three runs scored and three RBI. Sophomore Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary) scored once and drove in another, going 2-for-3, and freshman Jake Foley (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS) added two RBI in his 2-for-4 night. Additionally, freshman Sean Dwyer (Leesburg, Fla./Tavares HS) went 2-for-3 with a run scored and redshirt senior Robert Greene (Cape Coral, Fla./Mariner HS) blasted a two-run homer in the eighth, for his second round-tripper in as many games.
After going homerless over the first seven contests, the Eagles have now blasted five in the last two games with Maxfield and Greene each connecting for two.
Senior right-hander Jack Wagoner (Berlin, Conn./Northwest Catholic/St. Petersburg) got the start on the mound, evening his record at 1-1 with the win. Wagoner went five innings and allowed three earned runs on seven hits to go with six strikeouts and two walks. Fresh off his first collegiate win against Michigan two days ago, freshman Harrison Cooney (Vero Beach, Fla./Vero Beach HS) picked up the save in the contest, throwing the final four innings and allowing just one earned run on one hit with a pair of strikeouts.
Maxfield got the Blue and Green started early, putting FGCU ahead on the board in the top of the second inning by sending a 1-0 delivery over the left center field wall for his first home run of the season.
In the bottom of the third, UNF moved ahead in the contest as it pushed a pair of the runs across the plate. A pair of doubles moved one to the plate and a bases loaded hit-by-pitch brought another runner in from third base to give the Ospreys a 2-1 edge.
The four-run fourth inning pushed the Eagles’ advantage to 5-2. A leadoff walk by senior third baseman Tim Roberson (West Palm Beach, Fla./Palm Beach Central HS) got things started as Maxfield stepped back into the box. As the 2-1 pitch was sent to the plate, the four-hole hitter laced his second bomb of the game down the left field line, bringing his RBI count to three in the contest, and giving the Eagles a one-run lead. Later in the inning, Foley drove in a pair of runs on a two-RBI double to left center that plated Reeves and Dwyer in the process.
After the Ospreys sent another run home on a sacrifice fly to left field in the fifth inning, the score read 5-3 in favor of the Eagles until the visitor’s half of the eighth. Maxfield again got the inning rolling with a leadoff double down the left field line and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt from Dwyer. Reeves scored Maxfield on a single up the middle and then gave way to freshman Alex Diaz (Miami, Fla./Ferguson HS), who entered as a pinch-runner. Greene joined the hit brigade by smashing a 1-2 pitch out of the park, scoring Diaz on the home run and pushing the score to 8-3.
UNF would bring in another run in the bottom half of the ninth on a two-out home run by Andrew Karmeris, but this proved to be the final tally as the Eagles recorded the final out on the next batter to take the 8-4 victory.
The teams will return to the field for a Saturday doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. With a 2.08 ERA, freshman Brandon Bixler (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) figures to get the game one start, with A-Sun Preseason Pitcher of the Year Richie Erath (West Palm Beach, Fla./Palm Beach Central HS) closing the series.
Originally scheduled for three games in three days, the schools will now play a doubleheader to avoid weather delays forecasted for Sunday. Live stats, results and recaps from the weekend contests will be available at www.FGCUAthletics.com.