@FGCU_Baseball Begins Atlantic Sun Play with a Trip to USC-Upstate
Thursday, March 20, 2014 | by Matt Moretti III (@Moretts13)
Photo Courtesy: Linwood Ferguson
Photo Courtesy: Linwood Ferguson
FGCU (14-8)
USC Upstate (9-14)
3/21/2014 | Spartanburg, S.C. | Attendance: 109
USC Upstate000000000021
Win: MURRAY (5-0) 8.0200010
Loss: MANUPPELLI (3-2) 2.076110
RIVERA (FGCU) 514301

Mar. 21-23 | Cleveland S. Harley Baseball Park | 6 PM, 2 PM, Noon

Game Links | Game NotesLive Stats | Tickets | Video

Social | @FGCU_Baseball | FGCU Baseball (FB)

Game 1 – Friday Mar. 21 – 6 p.m.
FGCU - Michael Murray (4-0): 0.25 ERA, 36.2 IP, 28 H, 8 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 39 SO
USC- Upstate - Zac Manupelli (3-1): 6.05 ERA, 19.1 IP, 23 H, 13 R, 13 ER, 9 BB, 12 SO

Game 2 – Saturday Mar. 22 – 2 p.m.
FGCU – Nick Deckert (3-2): 2.01 ERA, 31.1 IP, 39 H, 11 R, 7 ER, 5 BB, 33 SO
USC-Upstate – David Roseboom (1-3): 4.97 ERA, 25.1 IP, 43 H, 26 R, 14 ER, 8 BB, 15 SO

Game 3 – Sunday Mar. 23 – Noon
USC-Upstate – Dylan Parker (0-1): 5.68 ERA, 25.1 IP, 41 H, 17 R, 16 ER, 7 BB, 16 SO

 ­­– The FGCU baseball team (13-8) will be begin the 2014 Atlantic Sun Conference slate this weekend with a trip to USC-Upstate (9-13, 1-2 A-Sun) in a matchup of teams picked to finish third and eighth in the league during the preseason, respectively.

The two programs will meet for a three game series in Spartanburg, S.C. beginning Friday (Mar. 20) at 6 p.m. and follow that up with a 2 p.m. tilt on Saturday before concluding the series with a Noon first pitch on Sunday. The Eagles are one of just four teams remaining in the A-Sun that has yet to play a game against a conference opponent.

Last season the Eagles finished with a 19-8 record in the league and earned the No. 2 seed heading into the conference tournament at Stetson. FGCU would go 0-2 however, falling to seventh-seeded Kennesaw State and sixth-seeded Lipscomb by a combined score of 6-3. The Green and Blue will begin the 2014 A-Sun slate with a combined 123-54 record since joining the league in 2007-08. In its first three seasons in the league, FGCU won a combined 73 games and claimed three regular season championships.

The Eagles currently hold an 11-7 advantage in the all-time series and took two of three from the Spartans last season at Swanson Stadium. USC-Upstate had taken two of three from FGCU in 2011 and ’12 after the Eagles swept them in 2010 and ’09. In their first ever series in 2008, the Spartans took two of three from the Eagles.

The Spartans come into their matchup with FGCU on a two-game losing streak, both to A-Sun foe North Florida last weekend after taking the opening game of the series. The series with FGCU will serve as the A-Sun home opener for USC-Upstate. Zack Krider has paced the offense with a .351 average while the three starters that will appear this weekend have struggled posting a combined 6.14 ERA. 

Zack Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS)
 took the mound against Miami, making his third start of the season after missing his scheduled start this past Sunday due to illness. In his last start opposite the Manhattan Jaspers, Tillery took a no-hitter into the seventh before coming away with the victory. After quick first and second innings, the Naples, Fla. native struggled in the third, giving up two runs after walking two batters in the inning. Tillery left after 4.0 innings pitched having allowed four hits, two runs, walking three and striking out none.

Brady Anderson (Arcadia, Fla./DeSoto HS) was shaky for a second outing in a row and ended up taking the loss in this one. After working a scoreless ninth, Anderson came back out to pitch the 10th and gave up what would prove to be the game-winning run. The sophomore has now allowed runs in back-to-back outings for the first time this season. 

Gage Morey (West Palm Beach, Fla./PB Central) picked up three more hits while Andrew Valencia (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) drove in both runs to bring his season RBI total to 10. Michael Suchy (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast HS) added two more hits to his tally as well, scored once a stole a base.

Noll now leads the nation with 15 stolen bases and Anderson's seven saves are good for third in the country. FGCU starting pitcher Michael Murray (West Palm Beach, Fla./Forrest Hill HS) has the second best ERA in the nation among starters at 0.25. His 13-strikeout performance last Friday night earned him is second Atlantic Sun Pitcher of the Week award on Monday.  

The coaches of the A-Sun have chosen FGCU to finish third out of 10 in the preseason voting. The Eagles received two first-place votes and finished behind only reigning Regular Season Champion Mercer and North Florida, respectively.

Mercer received 97 points to go with seven first place votes followed by North Florida with 86 points and one first place vote. The Eagles finished with 73 points and two first place votes. ETSU (69), Kennesaw State (64), Stetson (60), Lipscomb (34), USC Upstate (30), Jacksonville (27) and Northern Kentucky (10) round out the 10-team poll. Both Mercer and 2013 A-Sun Tournament Champion ETSU advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season. The top eight teams in the standings at the end of the regular season will advance to the 2014 A-Sun Championship Tournament hosted by FGCU at Swanson Stadium May 21-25.

FGCU saw seven players drafted off the roster last season into Major League Baseball. Head coach Dave Tollett has now had 20 players drafted over his 12-year stint heading up the program. The most notable of FGCU Eagles in the pros is two-time MLB All-Star Chris Sale who posted an 11-14 record for the Chicago White Sox last season with a 3.07 ERA. He struck out 226 batters in 214.1 innings pitched, picked up the win in the 2013 All-Star Game and ultimately finished fifth in the American League Cy Young Award voting.

The Eagles will head to Coral Gables next Wednesday for a quick rematch with Miami (12-10) before continuing A-Sun play at Stetson (7-14) the following weekend. After Stetson, FGCU will travel to Tallahassee for a date with the No. 1 team in the nation, Florida State (17-3) on Tuesday, Apr. 1 before taking on Florida A&M (6-13) the next day. FGCU will open up conference play at home with Kennesaw State (12-12, 1-2 A-Sun) Apr. 4-6.