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Eagles Claim Deciding Finale over North Florida to take Crucial A-Sun Weekend Set
|Florida Gulf Coast||0||2||0||6||0||1||0||0||1||10||12||2|
|Win: COONEY (5-5)||5.0||5||4||4||2||3|
|Loss: RENNER (9-1)||3.2||8||8||3||1||1|
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In a rubber match battle between two of the league’s top teams, the FGCU baseball team earned the deciding game three victory over North Florida, 10-7, on Sunday afternoon in the crucial Atlantic Sun Conference series finale at Harmon Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla.
The win moved the Eagles’ record to 34-17 on the season, but more importantly improved their mark to 16-8 in A-Sun play to sit in a share of second place and hold the tie-break over UNF. The Ospreys fell to 35-16 this season, as they now trail FGCU 14-6 in the all-time series between the schools.
“I have to give a lot of credit to the team for the way they came out and finished this series here on the road,” said head coach Dave Tollett. “Conference series are always a battle no matter who you are going up against, and to come on the road against the league co-leader and battle back to win the series after dropping the opener, I couldn’t be happier with the way the team came together this weekend. These two wins have put us in decent position with only one A-Sun series remaining, and we just need to keep the focus we had over these final two games and use it to help us finish up conference play at home next weekend.”
The Eagles struck first in the top of the second for two runs. Redshirt senior Brooks Beisner (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS/Auburn) singled to right center and freshman Nick Rivera (Cape Coral, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) followed with a two-run home run over the right center wall to give FGCU a 2-0 lead.
The Ospreys cut the deficit to one in the home half of the second. Donnie Dewees began the inning with a single through the right side and advanced to second on an outfield error on the play. After a groundout advanced him to third, Dewees later scored on a wild pitch to give UNF its first run of the game.
FGCU exploded in the fourth with six runs to take a commanding 8-1 lead. After Beisner and Rivera both reached base to start the inning, sophomore Zack Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS) tallied the first RBI of the inning on a double down the right field line which scored Beisner. In the next at-bat, freshman Colton Bottomley (Davie, Fla./Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS) singled to left field to plate another. With two runners on, sophomore Michael Suchy (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast HS) broke the game open, driving in both base runners on a double to right center and later coming around to score on a fielding error by the third basemen for the eighth run of the game.
UNF got a run back in bottom half of the fourth when designated hitter Nick Kameris deposited a home run over the right field wall, cutting the lead to six runs.
The Ospreys tacked on two more in the fifth after back-to-back hits and a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases for right fielder Tyler Marincov, who delivered two runs on a high chopper over the third basemen to lower the lead to 8-4.
Senior Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary) led the sixth inning off with a walk and advanced to third on a single to right center by Suchy. With Reeves in scoring position, junior Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South fork HS) drove him in on a sacrifice fly to right field, upping the Green and Blue edge to 9-4.
UNF added two runs in the home half of the sixth when Nick Karmeris reached on an error and moved to third on a double by Kyle Brooks. Karmeris came around to score on a single by Spencer Herrmann and Brooks scored on a RBI ground out to second. The Osprey pushed their third unanswered run across in the seventh after Marincov doubled and later scored on another ground out to second.
FGCU plated an insurance run in the top of the ninth as Rivera homered for the second time in the game with a solo shot to right. The pair of home runs in the contest moved the Cape Coral, Fla. product’s season total to eight, as he now leads the Green and Blue in round-trippers.
Entering in the eighth inning, sophomore right-hander Jack English (Delray Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman HS) finished off the final two frames, including a 1-2-3 ninth inning, to finalize his second save of the year. The second-year arm allowed just one hit and recorded one strikeout against the seven batters he faced.
Starting the contest on the mound for the Eagles, junior right-hander Harrison Cooney (Vero Beach, Fla./Vero Beach HS) (5-5) went five innings, allowing four runs on five hits and a pair of walks while striking out three in the winning effort.
FGCU scored 10 runs on 12 hits and three UNF errors. Rivera starred offensively, going 3-for-5 with a pair of home runs, scoring three times and driving in a trio of RBI. Suchy also went 3-for-5 on the day, recording one double, one run scored and two RBI. Beisner scored twice in a 1-for-5 game, and Tillery provided a multi-hit game with a 2-for-5 day that included a double and a RBI.
Entering the day with a 9-0 record and the second best ERA in the A-Sun at 1.43, senior left-hander Michael Renner was issued his first loss of the season at the hands of the Eagles, allowing eight runs (three earned) on eight hits and one walk while tallying just one strikeout. Offensively, the Ospreys scored seven runs on 10 hits and two FGCU errors.
Over the three-game series, the Eagles hit .293 with 24 runs scored and 19 RBI, collecting 13 extra-base hits with four home runs. Dwyer connected at a .462 rate (6-for-13) with a home run and three RBI, while Bottomley hit .455 (5-for-11) with a team-high five RBI, .538 on-base percentage and two doubles. With three home runs in the set, Rivera was .400 (6-for-15) with four RBI and team-highs of five runs scored and a 1.067 slugging percentage. Tillery also drove in three RBI and scored three times while hitting .429, and Suchy hit .333 (3-for-9) with two runs scored.
Also in A-Sun play this weekend, Mercer’s 2-0 win over ETSU on Sunday in Macon, Ga. earned the series win and moved the Bears into sole possession of first place in the standings, sitting at 34-14 (17-7 A-Sun).
The Eagles return to action on Tuesday when they play host to in-state foe USF, which was ranked as high as No. 20 according to the Collegiate Baseball poll this past week, beginning at 6:30 p.m. A full preview of the midweek non-conference meeting will be available at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com on Monday.