FGCU Splits with Mercer in High-Scoring Doubleheader to Open Series
Saturday, April 06, 2013 | by Andrew Piper (@ADPiper7)
A win on Sunday over Mercer would give FGCU the series victory. (Photo by Linwood Ferguson)
A win on Sunday over Mercer would give FGCU the series victory. (Photo by Linwood Ferguson)
Florida Gulf Coast (24-13, 5-4 A-Sun)
Mercer (22-21, 10-6 A-Sun)
4/6/2013 | Macon, Ga. | Attendance: 100
Florida Gulf Coast0104001690
Win: RICE (12-9) 7.096660
Loss: OWEN (6-5) 0.001120
SHIVER (MER) 313101

MACON, Ga. – In a series opening doubleheader against Atlantic Sun opponent Mercer, the FGCU softball team (25-13, 6-4 A-Sun) garnered a split on Mercer’s home field to start off a three-game set between the two sides on Saturday afternoon at Sikes Field.

Both of the day’s contests were high-scoring affairs with Mercer having taken game one 7-6 in comeback fashion and FGCU rebounding to take game two by a score of 12-5.

Junior righty Amanda Josie (Estero, Fla./Estero HS) got the start in the circle for FGCU in the first game of the day and put in a quality start to total over six innings of work.

In the top of the second, FGCU jumped out front with the game’s first run off of a single down the left field line from Kirsten Bembnowski (Palm Harbor, Fla./East Lake HS) to bring in Kelsey Carpenter (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) from second base, making it 1-0.

The Bears drew even with the Eagles at one run apiece on a solo home run to lead off the home half of the second.

With no desire for a low-scoring affair, junior Emily Lanier (St. Cloud, Fla./Harmony HS) sent a pitch deep to right field and over the fence to put FGCU up 3-1 in the top of the fourth. Looking to add to the multiple-run Eagle advantage, 2013 Preseason All-Atlantic Sun team selection Jessica Barnes (Winter Haven, Fla./Haines City HS) struck a double to make it 4-1 for the Green and Blue. A base knock off the bat of junior Tori Williams (Dunnellon, Fla./Dunnellon HS) brought Barnes across to cap a four-run fourth inning for the visitors.

Working from behind, Mercer brought in a runner from scoring position on a double to left in the bottom of the fifth to make it 5-2. Looking to further decrease the deficit, Mercer used a two-run long ball to pull within one run of FGCU with the Sikes Field scoreboard reading 5-4 through six innings of play.

In need of adding insurance runs in the top of the seventh, senior Mariah Fernandez (Cape Coral, Fla./North Fort Myers HS) connected with a pitch and sent a one-run jack out of the park to make it 6-4 in favor of the Eagles, just three outs away from the victory.

Mercer once again displayed its resiliency, this time in the bottom of the seventh as the Bears looked to avoid defeat. FGCU got two quick ground ball outs to bring themselves within one out of the 6-4 win, but the Bears would continue their rally with a one-run home run to draw within one run. The Bears then loaded the bases on three straight walks and a single from their designated player brought two runs across, lifting Mercer to a 7-6 walk-off win over FGCU in the first game of the twin billing.

Game two began with Mercer getting to work early on offense by scoring four runs in the first. With one away in the bottom of the first inning, the Bears plated the first run of the contest and used a three-run home run three batters later to jump out front 4-0 through one inning of play.

FGCU answered in the top of the second thanks to the bat of Jessica Barnes who, with the bases loaded, sent a ball over the wall in left center to tie it up at four. After a quiet game one, junior catcher Chelsea Zgrabik (Venice, Fla./Venice HS) broke the tie with a one-run blast to give the Eagles a 5-4 lead, its first of game two.

The scoring gold rush continued for the Green and Blue in the second as a double from Kirsten Bembnowski brought across two more runs and the illegal pitch that followed added one more to make it 8-4. A sacrifice fly from Brittney Garabedian (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep HS) scored another Eagle runner, making it 9-4 FGCU and capping off a nine-run inning for the road team.

With two outs out in the bottom of the third, the Bears pulled across one run on a bunt single to make it 9-5 with Mercer hungry for another comeback.

In the top of the sixth, Kirsten Bembnowski continued to swing a hot bat as she connected with a pitch for a two-run shot to make it 12-5 in favor of the Eagles as the Preseason All-Atlantic Sun first teamer collected her fourth RBI of the game while collecting her fifth of the day.

After having allowed Mercer to complete the comeback in game one, the FGCU defense looked to lock down the Bears in the bottom of the seventh with a comfortable seven-run lead. Junior transfer and game two starting pitcher Jackie Owen (Cape Coral, Fla./Daytona State College) collected herself after a rough start to record a complete game on her way to recording the victory.

The game two win ended a four-game losing streak for the Eagles which stemmed from a three-game sweep to Lipscomb, along with the game one loss to Mercer.

At the conclusion of the doubleheader, the Eagles and Bears have now played a total of ten times in the history between the two programs. With the split, FGCU now leads Mercer in the all-time series 6-4.

The Green and Blue will close out its three-game set with Mercer on Sunday, April 7 at Sikes Field with first pitch set for 1 p.m. After having split the first two contests of the series, the winner of Sunday’s rubber match will also collect the A-Sun series victory.

In-game Twitter updates (@FGCU_Softball), results and a recap from the day’s action will be available at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com.