3/14/2014 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 515
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FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU baseball team (11-7) cruised past Florida A&M (6-11), 8-1, on Friday night at Swanson Stadium anchored by yet another brilliant start from Mike Murray who earned his fourth-straight positive decision and guided the Eagles to their fifth-straight win.
Murray (West Palm Beach, Fla./Forrest Hill HS) worked arguably his best start of the season on Friday night, tossing seven scoreless innings of four-hit ball and striking out a career-high 13 batters. His previous high was 10 which came last season and he had fanned nine twice this season. FGCU then let the bullpen take care of the Rattlers the rest of the way to secure the victory.
Gage Morey (West Palm Beach, Fla./PB Central HS) had the game of his career posting a 4-4 effort while driving in two runs, scoring twice and stealing two bags. Nick Rivera (Cape Coral, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) added two hits and drove in a pair while Kevin Young (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla./Ponte Vedra Beach HS) and Michael Suchy (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast HS) lifted the first two home runs of the season for FGCU in back-to-back fashion in the fifth.
“Murray came out and pitched great again,” head coach Dave Tollett added after the game. “The offense gave him the support he needed and he was able to settle in and cruise. It was nice to see the bats get rolling and it’s always nice to pick up a win to start a series.”
With one out in the bottom of the third, Jake Noll (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS) reached with the help of an error from the second baseman and stole his nation-leading 12th bag of the season. He would move up to third when the FAMU pitcher threw a potential pick-off attempt into center. Morey, at the plate throughout, finally singled to left to bring in the first run of the ball game. He would promptly steal second for the second time in the game and would circle home on a Rivera single up the middle.
Murray came back out and continued to cruise, striking out the side and giving him eight through just four innings of work. Ryan O’Malley (San Jose, Calif./College of San Mateo) led off the bottom of the fourth with a walk and up moved up on an Adam Eggnatz (Tampa, Fla./Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate HS) bunt single. Alex Diaz (Miami, Fla./John A. Feguson) came to the plate and sacrificed the runners over before Morey came back to the plate with two out now and brought in O’Malley for his second RBI of the evening.
In the bottom of the fifth, Young led off and drove the team’s first home run of the year over the left field wall to extend the lead to 4-0. The shot ended a 20-game homerless streak for the Green and Blue dating back to last season but they weren’t done there, Suchy came to the plate and made it back-to-back jacks with his first long ball of the season after hitting nine in 2013.
After the Eagles extended the lead to 7-0, Murray left the game with his career-high 13 punch-outs in just seven innings in favor of Brad Labozzetta (Lakeland, Fla./Lakeland HS) who stepped in to make his first relief appearance of the year and worked a quick eighth before handing the ball over to Liam Rafferty (Ashburnham, Mass./Sacred Heart Univ.) in the ninth with an 8-0 advantage to work with. Rafferty struggled however and loaded the bases without recording an out forcing Tollett the turn the ball over to Gabe Rivera (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS). A wild pitch spoiled the shutout but two strikeouts and a ground out held off the Rattlers and secured the 8-1 victory for FGCU.
Murray has failed to allow an earned run in each of his last four starts this season, resulting in a 4-0 record. He took a no-decision in his first outing of the season against Rhode Island but the Eagles won anyway making them a perfect 5-0 in Murray starts. His ERA drops to 0.25 which would have ranked second in the nation coming into the game. Prior to the home runs by Young and Suchy, the Eagles were one of just 26 schools in the nation yet to hit a home run this season. Noll picked up his 26th hit of the year tonight which moves him into a tie for second in the A-Sun and would have tied him for 12th in the nation entering the evening.
FGCU will be back in action against FAMU tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. Anyone with a ticket to the women’s basketball game at 1 p.m. will be admitted to baseball for free.
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.