2/21/2014 | Daytona Beach, Fla. | Attendance: 125
WP | Mike Murray: 7.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 SO
LP | Keith Zuniga: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 8 SO
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The FGCU baseball team (4-2) collected a 5-4 victory over Bethune-Cookman (3-2) on Friday night behind Mike Murray who dominated on the mound for a second consecutive start but the Wildcats did not go quietly into the night as they mounted a powerful comeback in the eighth that would ultimately fall short.
Murray (West Palm Beach, Fla./Forest Hills HS) tossed a career-high 7.2 strong innings without allowing an earned run and striking out nine to pick up his first win. Over the first six innings the sophomore allowed just two hits and after giving up a pair of hits and a walk in the seventh, he turned the ball over to FGCU closer Brady Anderson (Arcardia, Fla./DeSoto County HS).
Designated hitter Kevin Young (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla./Ponte Vedra Beach HS) went 2-4 with a pair of runs batted in to raise his 2014 batting average to .409 and into the team lead. Jake Noll (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS) took over lead off duties and responded with a two hits, two runs and a pair of stolen bases of his own. Gage Morey (West Palm Beach, Fla./PB Central) made his first start of the season in center field and went 1-3 at the plate scoring twice, driving in one and swiping one bag.
“Murray was great tonight,” head coach Dave Tollett added after the game. “The pitching has been outstanding so far and that’s huge for a young club like this one. We need to clean some things up defensively but this team has showed some encouraging signs early on.”
The two programs would spray a combined four hits over the first five innings as the two starters dueled through the damp weather. It was not until the sixth inning that FGCU would finally break through. Alex Diaz (Miami, Fla./John A. Ferguson HS) led off with a double down the left field line followed by Noll legging out an infield single, moving up Diaz. Noll would steal second to put two runners in scoring position for Morey who singled to right, scoring Diaz for his first RBI of the season. Young came to the plate after an Eagle pop out and drove in two more runs to give FGCU a 3-0 lead through six.
In the eighth it was Noll sparking the rally once again with a bunt single and stolen base, concurrently, to lead things off. The freshman would come around to score with the help of a B-CU error bumping the lead to 4-0. Nick Rivera (Cape Coral, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) drove in the last FGCU run with a sacrifice fly that brought home Morey who had advanced all the way to third on the previous error.
Murray would take the ball in the eighth with a 5-0 lead but B-CU collected two singles and worked a walk to force the West Palm Beach native out the game with the bases loaded and two outs for Anderson who came on for the five-out save. An FGCU error allowed Johnson to reach and bring home two Wildcat runs. A walk would load the bases once again and this time it was a Diaz throwing error that brought home two more runs. That would be all for B-CU in the eighth however as Anderson induced a groundout to close the frame.
FGCU added no insurance in the ninth and one more FGCU error would lead to the tying run reaching scoring position for B-CU but that was as close as they would come in the final frame as Anderson was able to shut the door.
The efforts of Murray and Anderson on Friday night lowered FGCU’s team-ERA to 1.33 with 43 strikeouts and a mere eight walks in 54 innings. Nick Deckert (Tallahassee, Fla./Tallahassee CC) will look to continue the trend for the Eagles on Saturday when he puts his 0.00 ERA on the line at 1 p.m.
Single-game tickets for FGCU Baseball are available at a cost of $6 for adults and $3 for children. Season tickets are also available. For more ticket information and additional deals, visit FGCUathletics.com/tickets, or call or visit the ticket office at 239-590-7145.