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Diaz Delivers Decisive Drive as Eagles Walk-Off in Series Opener with USC Upstate
|Win: PATRICK (1-0)||2.0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Loss: SOBOTKA (0-2)||2.2||4||2||1||2||3|
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Trailing by one run with two outs in the ninth, the FGCU baseball team used a RBI double from freshman Colton Bottomley (Davie, Fla./Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS) to level the game, before walking off with a RBI single from redshirt sophomore Alex Diaz (Miami, Fla./Ferguson) in the home half the 10th, to earn the Atlantic Sun Conference series-opening victory over USC Upstate, 3-2, on Friday night at Swanson Stadium.
Down 2-1 in their final chance at the plate, freshman Nick Rivera (Cape Coral, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) got the inning going for the Eagles with a single into centerfield. Facing the final out after back-to-back strikeouts, Bottomley sent the game to extra innings by delivering a double down the right field line to plate pinch runner Diaz and tie the game at 2-2.
After retiring the Spartans in order in the top of the 10th, the Eagles landed a runner on second in the bottom of the inning after a throwing error on a one-out bunt single from senior Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary). Following an intentional walk issued to junior Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS), Diaz came to the plate with two away and laced a single into left center as Reeves was waived across the dish by head coach Dave Tollett for the game-winning run.
The Eagles record climbed to 21-13 overall, while also improving to 7-6 in A-Sun action. Meanwhile, the Spartans dropped to 22-17 (7-9 A-Sun) this season in the losing effort.
“We had our backs to the wall so to speak in the last inning and it was great see a pair of freshman step up the way they did to tie the game for us there in the ninth,” said Tollett. “Then to see Diaz enter as a replacement a deliver such a big at-bat for us in extras, hopefully we can use this momentum to our advantage through the rest of this series and on through this home stand.”
The Spartans took a 2-0 lead in the visitor’s side of the fourth after consecutive singles to Tyler Lesch and Brandon Patterson to begin the frame put runners on the corners. A groundout to short by Trey Richardson brought in the first tally and a single through the left side by Brody Greer later in the inning allowed Patterson to up the lead to two runs.
Sophomore Michael Suchy (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast HS) cut the deficit in half, 2-1, in the bottom of the fifth, connecting for a solo home run on a towering drive over the wall in left field.
Junior right-hander Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS) started the contest for the Green and Blue and went eight innings, allowing two runs on six hits with five strikeouts in a 123-pitch no-decision. Redshirt junior righty Danny Patrick (Jupiter, Fla./Jupiter HS/Pepperdine/Palm Beach State) tossed the final two scoreless innings in the contest to earn his first victory of the season (1-0).
The Eagles scored three runs on 10 hits and one Upstate error. Reeves led the way for the Green and Blue, going 3-for-5 with the game-winning run scored. Bottomley supplied a 3-for-4 game with the RBI double and Suchy provided the home run in a 1-for-4 night. Entering the game as a pinch runner in the ninth, Diaz finished the game 1-for-1 with a run scored and the go-ahead RBI. Rivera (1-for-4) and Dwyer (1-for-3, 2 BB) recorded the other two hits in the game for the Eagles.
USC Upstate scored two runs on six hits. Tossing the final 2.2 innings for the Spartans, sophomore righty Chad Sobotka (0-2) was dealt the loss, surrendering two runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts.
The two squads return to Swanson Stadium for game two of the A-Sun weekend series on Saturday, with the start time moved to 1 p.m. Freshman right-hander Michael Murray (West Palm Beach, Fla./Forest Hill HS) is expected to open the contest for the Eagles, squaring off against Spartans’ junior lefty David Roseboom.
Live stats, in-game Twitter updates (@FGCU_Baseball), box score results and recaps will be available at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com for each contest in the series. Tickets for all home contests are available online at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com/tickets or by calling the FGCU ticket office at 239-590-7145.
FGCU Probable Pitchers
Sat. – RHP Michael Murray, Fr. (4-1, 2.92 ERA, 52.1 IP, 25 K, 9 BB, .257 B/Avg.)
Sun. – LHP Brandon Bixler, Jr. (3-2, 2.72 ERA, 36.1 IP, 50 K, 28 BB, .195 B/Avg.)
USC Upstate Probable Pitchers
Sat. – LHP David Roseboom, Jr. (5-2, 4.04 ERA, 55.2 IP, 34 K, 25 BB, .250 B/Avg.)
Sun. – RHP Gaither Bumgardner, Sr. (4-1, 3.21 ERA, 33.2 IP, 27 K, 13 BB, .230 B/Avg.)