FORT MYERS, Fla. – Facing the minimum number of batters through the first six frames, freshman right-hander Ricky Knapp’s (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS) strong outing on the mound helped the FGCU baseball team take down visiting Bethune-Cookman, 5-2, on Tuesday evening at Swanson Stadium.
The victory leveled the Eagles record at 16-16 (8-7 A-Sun) while the Wildcats dropped to 19-16 in the 2011 campaign.
In his fifth start of the season, Knapp improved his record to 3-1 with the victory. The newcomer fanned six batters and allowed just two earned runs on four hits to help the Eagles earn the victory.
Not to be lost in the effort, junior righty Jason Forjet (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Nova HS) entered in the seventh and finished out the contest, preserving the win and securing his second save of the year.
After four scoreless frames started off the ballgame, the Eagles were able to move a pair of runs across the dish in the bottom of the fifth. After freshman Sean Dwyer (Leesburg, Fla./Tavares HS) and senior Mikel Alvarez (West Palm Beach, Fla./Palm Beach Central HS) were issued walks in the frame, senior Tim Roberson (West Palm Beach, Fla./Palm Beach Central HS) sent a two-out fly ball to centerfield that was misplayed by the outfielder, allowing both base runners to come in to score.
The Eagle pushed their lead to 3-0 in the home side of the sixth. Freshman Jake Foley (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS) drew a full count walk and quickly moved into scoring position by swiping second base with one out . A well placed single into left field from freshman Andrew Valencia (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) moved Foley in from second for the three run advantage.
Knapp’s outing got a little rocky in the top of the seventh after a hit batter and a single to right field put runners on the corners with no outs. A double to deep center field from BCU’s Ryan Durrence scored both runners, prompting an FGCU pitching change with no outs in the frame. Forjet worked the Eagles out of the jam without any further damage as the Blue and Green headed to the plate with a slim 3-2 lead.
Responding with a two-out rally in their next chance at the plate, the Eagles moved their advantage to 5-2 in the bottom of the seventh. Senior Zach Maxfield (North Port, Fla./North Port HS/Pasco-Hernando CC) got things started when he was hit by a 1-1 delivery and advanced to second base on a passed ball by BCU’s catcher Peter O’Brien. Following a walk from sophomore Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter's Secondary), a single up the middle by junior Javi Sujo (Miami, Fla./Miami Sunset HS/Middle Georgia College) brought Maxfield across the plate, and put runners on first and second. The next batter, Foley, dropped a tailing fly ball into shallow left field, which allowed Reeves to touch the plate and increase the lead to three runs.
FGCU retired the Wildcats over the final two frames without allowing a runner past first base to secure the 5-2 victory.
The Eagles tallied their five runs on eight hits and were aided by a pair of defensive errors from BCU. Freshman Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) and Sujo each had 2-for-4 nights, with Sujo adding an RBI. Reeves and Foley each hit 1-for-3 with a run scored in the contest, while Foley also recorded an RBI. Additionally, Maxfield went 1-for-2 with a walk, a hit-by-pitch and a run scored.
Bethune-Cookman scored its two runs on five hits in the contest. Rayan Gonzalez (0-2) was issued the loss for the Wildcats after throwing five innings and allowing two unearned runs on four hits.
The two teams will be back in action for the final contest of the two-game set on Wednesday evening. First pitch from Swanson Stadium is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Live stats, in-game twitter (@FGCUBaseball), results and recaps from the contest will be available at www.FGCUAthletics.com.