FORT MYERS, Fla. – Freshman right-hander Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS) continued his strong first season in the Blue and Green on Saturday afternoon, limiting a potent Jacksonville lineup to just one earned run over his seven innings of work, as the Eagles tied the weekend Atlantic Sun series with an 8-2 triumph at Swanson Stadium.
Knapp, who went eight innings in a win last weekend against Le Moyne, used a season-best 106 pitches to improve to 5-1. He scattered seven hits over seven innings against the A-Sun’s top hitting team (.324) who has been limited to two runs or less just three times this season. Knapp’s team-leading seventh start was also his 19th appearance and featured three strikeouts.
FGCU’s win sets up Sunday’s showdown as the deciding game in the series. The Eagles are now 22-21 on the season, but more importantly, improve to 11-9 in the A-Sun. Jacksonville, who sits in second place, stands at 15-8 in the league.
Originally scheduled to be a 1 p.m. start, Sunday’s first pitch has been moved up to noon. Admission into tomorrow’s game is free as will the other two Sunday games remaining on FGCU’s home schedule.
After a 1-2-3 inning from Knapp to start the game, sophomore Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/Sinclair Secondary) wasted no time in extending his hit streak to 12 games and gave FGCU an early 2-0 lead with a two-out double that scored a pair of runs. Junior Javi Sujo (Miami, Fla./Miami Sunset HS), who’s batting .438 in A-Sun play, kept the two-out rally going with an RBI single to give Knapp a 3-0 edge.
Working with the lead, Knapp sat down six of seven batters in the second and third inning before the Eagles extended their lead in the bottom of the third with two more runs. The first four batters of the frame reached base, culminating with a bases loaded walk to Reeves that made it 4-0 and knocked JU starter Tony Mollica out of the game. Freshman Jake Foley (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS) drove in the last run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to left field.
A leadoff single in the fourth inning by freshman Sean Dwyer (Leesburg, Fla./Tavares HS) and a hit-by-pitch to senior Mikel Alvarez (West Palm Beach, Fla./Palm Beach Central HS) translated into runs, as the duo scored to stretch the lead to 7-0. Freshman Brandon Bednar’s (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) groundout to second base scored Dwyer from third, while senior Tim Roberson (West Palm Beach, Fla./Palm Beach Central HS) singled up the middle for the 174th RBI of his career.
Jacksonville finally got two runs across in the top of the sixth to cut the deficit to 7-2, but senior Zach Maxfield (North Port, Fla./North Port HS/Pasco-Hernando CC) climbed back into a tie with Roberson for the all-time RBI lead (174) on single to left field that scored Alvarez.
Knapp wrapped up his team-leading fifth win of the season with a scoreless seventh before sophomore R.J. Brown (Brandon, Fla./Bloomingdale HS) closed the game over the final two innings.
Eight of nine starters had a hit for the Eagles, as they finished the month of April (17 games) with a .336 team batting average. Roberson led the way by going 2-for-5, while Reeves’ 12-game hit streak is the longest by an Eagle this season.