KENNESAW, Ga. – Senior Zach Maxfield (North Port, Fla./North Port HS/Pasco-Hernando CC) blasted a solo home run to lead off the ninth inning and freshman Sean Dwyer (Leesburg, Fla./Tavares HS) drove home the eventual game-winning run to lead the FGCU baseball team to a thrilling 7-6 comeback victory at Kennesaw State on Sunday at Stillwell Stadium to win the weekend series.
Just after giving the Eagles their first lead in the top of the inning, Dwyer made a crucial play in left field when he prevented an inning opening hit by Ronnie Freeman from reaching the gap, limiting him to single. After the first out of the inning, another hit moved Freeman over to second and he advanced to third on a fly out.
With the game-tying run at third and the winning run at first with two outs, senior Jack Wagoner (Berlin, Conn./Northwest Catholic/St. Petersburg) (3-2) got the final out of the game on a lineout to right field to earn the win on the mound after going 3.2 scoreless innings to close the contest.
The win clinched the weekend series for FGCU (10-8) and also pulled it ahead of Kennesaw State (21-18, 9-8) in the A-Sun standings. The Eagles have won four of their last five games and stand at 19-17 overall heading into a two-game mid-week set at No. 8 Florida State (26-10, 11-7 ACC).
The Eagles have won all four series against Kennesaw State by a 2-1 margin since joining the league in 2008, including three on the road.
FGCU’s bats returned to form after being six-hit on Saturday, pounding out 14 base knocks to improve to 13-4 when recording double-digit hits. Five different players recorded multi-hit afternoons, led by junior Javi Sujo’s (Miami, Fla./Miami Sunset HS/Middle Georgia College) 3-for-4 performance. Sujo is now batting a team-best .464 in A-Sun play (26-56).
Maxfield’s home run was his eighth of the season, as he moved into a tie with classmate Tim Roberson (West Palm Beach, Fla./Palm Beach Central HS) for the program all-time lead with 39. Maxfield finished 2-for-3 with two walks, three runs scored and two RBI. Senior Mikel Alvarez’s (West Palm Beach, Fla./Palm Beach Central HS) 86th career multi-hit game featured a double. Sophomore Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/Sinclair Secondary) continued his hot start to April by going 2-for-5 with two RBI, while fellow catcher Andrew Valencia (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) also went 2-for-5.
Freshman Harrison Cooney (Vero Beach, Fla./Vero Beach HS) made his first career A-Sun start, going three innings while earn a no-decision. Cooney gave up five runs, but just one was earned as the Eagles made three errors. Cooney threw 41 of his 63 pitches for strikes.
Trailing 6-3 after six innings following freshman Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS) second relief appearance in as many nights, FGCU got back into the game with two runs in the top of the seventh. Both runs came with two outs, as freshmen Jake Foley (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS) and Valencia supplied back-to-back RBI singles to cut the deficit to 6-5.
Wagoner kept the Owls off the scoreboard in each of his first two full innings of work, setting the stage for the ninth inning comeback. Wagoner struck out four and gave up just three hits over his 3.2 scoreless innings and now has gone his last 8.2 innings in relief without allowing a run.
FGCU will begin its two-game series at No. 8 Florida State on Tuesday evening. First pitch is slated for 6 p.m.