FORT MYERS, Fla. – Following a lightning-delayed start lasting nearly two hours, the FGCU baseball team fell to the visiting Jacksonville Dolphins, 10-7, in game one of the three-game Atlantic Sun Conference series on Friday evening at Swanson Stadium.
The loss evens the Eagles record at 21-21 (10-9 A-Sun), while the Dolphins improved to 25-15 (15-7 A-Sun) this season.
The Blue and Green plated their seven runs on 12 hits and were led at the dish by senior Mikel Alvarez (West Palm Beach, Fla./Palm Beach Central HS), who went 3-for-6 with two RBI and a run scored. Entering the contest two hits shy of 300 for his career, Alvarez became just the second player in FGCU history, and fifth in A-Sun history, to accomplish the feat when he connected for a two-out RBI single up the middle in the bottom of the fourth.
Senior Zach Maxfield’s (North Port, Fla./North Port HS/Pasco-Hernando CC) 3-for-4 night included a run scored and an RBI, while sophomore Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary) went 1-for-2 with a run scored and an RBI.
FGCU went out to an early 2-0 lead after plating runs in the first and third innings. After Alvarez notched hit number 299 to lead off the home half of the first, Maxfield sent an RBI double down the left field line to make it 1-0. In the third, a one-out walk from freshman Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) was followed with back-to-back singles from senior Tim Roberson (West Palm Beach, Fla./Palm Beach Central HS) and Maxfield to load the bases. Reeves then connected for a sacrifice fly to centerfield, plating Bednar from third and giving the Eagles a 2-0 advantage.
After the Dolphins tallied their first run in the top half of the fourth, FGCU responded with a run in the home side of the frame to make it a 3-1 contest. Freshman Jake Foley (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS) started off the inning with a single to left field and quickly moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by senior Stephen Wickens (Whitby, Ontario/Sinclair Secondary). Needing just one more hit to reach the 300 plateau, Alvarez stepped to plate and roped a two-out single up the middle, scoring Foley from second in the process and giving the Eagles a two-run edge.
Jacksonville took a short-lived 4-3 lead in its side of the fifth as three runs came across the plate. The lead quickly diminished as FGCU answered with four runs on three hits in the bottom of the inning, to take a 7-4 lead heading to the sixth.
Another JU run in the sixth would be the only scoring until the visitors returned to the plate eighth inning trailing the Eagles 7-5. On the strength of five hits and a pair of FGCU fielding errors, the Dolphins moved five runners around the bases to jump ahead 10-7. The lead proved insurmountable as the Eagles were held scoreless over their final two chances at the plate.
Starting the evening on the mound, senior Austin Gaines (Dunedin, Fla./Northeast HS/South Florida CC) went five innings and allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits to go with a pair of strikeouts. Entering in relief, junior Jason Forjet (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Nova HS) was hit with the tough-luck loss, throwing 2.2 innings and allowing five runs, just one of which was earned, and recording a trio of strikeouts. Senior Jack Wagoner (Berlin, Conn./Northwest Catholic/St. Petersburg) also saw action in relief, throwing 1.1 scoreless frames, allowing one hit and sitting down one batter faced.
Jacksonville plated 10 runs on 14 hits in the contest. Reliever Zac Houck picked up his first win of the season, going 2.1 scoreless innings.
The two teams will be back in action on Saturday for game two of the three-game A-Sun Conference series. Opening pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. from Swanson Stadium. Sunday’s final contest, originally scheduled for 1 p.m., has been moved to a 12 p.m. start due to FGCU graduation ceremonies. Live stats, in-game Twitter updates (@FGCUBaseball), results and recaps from the contests will be available at www.FGCUAthletics.com.