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No. 24 @FGCU_Baseball Takes Rubber Match with Kennesaw State, 4-1
|Florida Gulf Coast||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||4||12||1|
|Win: BIXLER (3-2)||5.1||4||1||1||7||9|
|Loss: KYLE (5-3)||6.2||9||2||2||1||5|
KENNESAW, Ga. – A pair of one-run innings and a two-run home run in the ninth helped the No. 24 FGCU baseball team take down Kennesaw State, 4-1, to earn the Atlantic Sun Conference weekend series victory on Sunday afternoon in Kennesaw, Ga.
The victory was the 20th on the season for the Eagles (20-8), who also improved to 6-3 in A-Sun play while earning their fifth-straight league series win dating back to last season. Meanwhile, KSU dropped to 18-15 on the year, including a 7-5 mark in conference contests.
With the victory, the Eagles climbed into a share of the top spot in the A-Sun standings alongside UNF (23-11), while KSU slid into a share of second in the standings beside Mercer (25-10) and ETSU (18-11).
The Green and Blue jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first. Freshman Tyler Selesky (Estero, Fla./Estero HS) led off the game with a single up the middle and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by senior Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary). After a groundout advanced the runner to third, junior cleanup hitter Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South fork HS) delivered a RBI double to left field to plate Selesky and give the Eagles a one-run lead.
The Eagles plated another run in the second with a towering blast by redshirt senior Brooks Beisner (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS/Auburn) over the left center wall which moved the lead to 2-0.
KSU pushed one across in the bottom half of the third to cut the lead to 2-1. Kal Simmons led off the inning with a walk followed by a single up the middle by Bo Way to put runners on first and second with no outs. Peyton Hart laid down a sacrifice bunt to the move the runners to second and third, setting up Chris McGowan’s sacrifice fly ball to centerfield.
The Eagles doubled their run total in the ninth as the lead climbed to 4-1. Sophomore Zack Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS) led off the inning with a single up the middle and quickly came in to score when freshman Nick Rivera (Cape Coral, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) followed with a two-run homerun to left field to give FGCU the final two tallies of the contest.
Improving to 3-2 on the year, junior lefty Brandon Bixler (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) went 5.1 innings and allowed just the one run on four hits while striking out nine batters. The third-year pitcher moved his ERA to 2.30 ERA this year, and now holds a team-best 42 strikeouts in 31.1 innings of work.
After redshirt freshman Clint Knoblauch (Wellington, Fla./Wellington HS) provided 2.1 innings of scoreless relief, junior Harrison Cooney (Vero Beach, Fla./Vero Beach HS) was able to pick up his fifth save of the season following the final 1.1 frames.
FGCU scored four runs on 12 hits and one KSU error. Selesky went 2-for-5 with a run scored, while Bednar recorded a 2-for-4 game with an RBI. Each connecting for a home run, Beisner (1-for-4) and Rivera (2-for-4) each scored once, adding one and two RBI, respectively. Tillery accounted for the other run scored in a 1-for-3 afternoon.
Through the three games, Tillery led the Eagles with a .455 average (5-for-11), adding a pair of RBI and scoring once. Redshirt sophomore Alex Diaz (Miami, Fla./Ferguson HS) hit .375 (3-for-8) over the weekend with a team-high .545 on-base percentage, while Rivera established a .300 mark (3-for-10) with two runs scored, one home run and a pair of RBI, in addition to a team-best .700 slugging percentage.
KSU plated one run on six hits and one FGCU error. Senior lefty Kevin Kyle (5-3) started the contest for the Owls and went 6.2 innings, allowing two runs on nine hits with five strikeouts in the losing effort.
The Green and Blue dropped the opener between the schools, 6-1, on Friday before leveling the series with a 5-3 victory on Saturday.
FGCU returns to action on Tuesday, April 9 when it looks to close a home-and-home series with FAU at Swanson Stadium beginning at 6 p.m. The Owls got the better of the Eagles, 9-8, when the two teams met earlier this season (Feb. 26) in Boca Raton, Fla.
Fans can get updates and information on FGCU baseball all season long by visiting www.FGCUATHLETICS.com or by following the team on twitter @FGCU_Baseball.