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No. 24 Eagles Ready for Rematch with FAU
|Win: Miller (2-0)||3.0||2||0||0||2||4|
|Loss: KNOBLAUCH (3-1)||0.0||4||5||5||0||0|
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Returning to Swanson Stadium following a four-game road trip, the No. 24 FGCU baseball team sets its sights on the final contest in the home-and-home series with FAU on Wednesday, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
The Eagles come into the contest with a 20-8 (6-3 A-Sun) overall record following an Atlantic Sun weekend series win at Kennesaw State (L 6-1, W 5-3, W 4-1). The Sunday victory was the 20th on the season for the Eagles, who earned their fifth-straight league series win dating back to last season.
The Green and Blue maintained the No. 24 rating by Perfect Game for the second straight week, while also landing at No. 29 in the newest edition of the Collegiate Baseball Top 30 and No. 30 by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA). Additionally, the Green and Blue moved up one spot to No. 10 in the College Baseball Daily Mid-Major Top 25 and were listed among others receiving votes in the USA Today Top 25.
Marking his sixth appearances and third start of the season, redshirt freshman Clint Knoblauch (Wellington, Fla./Wellington HS) will look to improve on his 3-0 record and 1.53 ERA. Through 17.2 innings of work, the Wellington, Fla. native has held opponents to a .119 average while recording 14 strikeouts. In his last start this year against Bowling Green (Mar. 6), Knoblauch opened the game with five innings of three-hit shutout baseball, earning his first collegiate victory with four strikeouts and one walk.
FGCU is led at the plate by junior Brandon Bednar’s (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) .347 average, who has also supplied team-bests of 27 runs scored and 26 RBI. Each coming in to score 20 times, junior Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary) (.346) and redshirt senior Brooks Beisner (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS/Auburn) (.342) are just behind Bednar’s mark, adding 14 and 21 RBI, respectively. Reeves leads the Eagles with a .427 on-base percentage, while Beisner’s five home runs are the most on the team.
Also above the .300 mark, junior Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS) (.333), freshman Nick Rivera (Cape Coral, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) (.314) and sophomore Zack Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS) (.307) have been productive for the Green and Blue this season. Dwyer leads the team with a .552 slugging percentage, and Rivera has driven in 11 RBI and scored 15 times in his first season with the Eagles.
Trailing by four runs entering the ninth proved to be too much in the last meeting (Feb. 26), as then-No. 23 FGCU was turned away by the Owls, 9-8, at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Fla. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak at the time, while moving the FGCU record to 7-3 in the all-time series between the two squads.
Sitting at 21-11 (8-4 Sun Belt) this season, FAU enters the contest as the top team in Sun Belt Conference standings. The Owls most recently dropped two of three weekend league games (W 8-6, L 8-5, L 8-4) against ULM in Monroe, La.
Mitch Morales is leading the Owls at the plate, hitting .351 with 17 RBI and 17 runs scored. Mark Nelson has a team-best 29 RBI while connecting at a .282 rate, while Nathan Pittman has a .314 average and a team-leading 23 runs scored.
On the mound for FAU will be freshman right-hander Kyle Miller, making his first start of the year holding a 1-0 record through seven appearances. In 9.2 innings of work, Miller has recorded 10 strikeouts and issued just two walks while holding opponents to a .171 average at the plate.
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.