4/2/2014 | Tallahassee, FL | Attendance: 117
BOX SCORE (PDF)
WP | Jack English (2-1): 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO
LP | Brandon Fleming (0-3): 1.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.- The FGCU baseball team (19-11, 5-1 Atlantic Sun) survived a wild back-and-forth affair at Florida A&M (10-17, 7-4 MEAC) on Wednesday afternoon, claiming a 7-6 victory in a game that saw three ties, three lead changes, 11 pitchers and 22 hits before it was all said and done. The win completes a season-long nine-game road swing during which the Eagles went 6-3, including a 5-1 start to A-Sun play.
Brad Labozzetta (Lakeland, Fla./Lakeland HS) made the start for the Green and Blue and tossed three scoreless before he began to struggle in the fourth. Three walks and wild pitch that forced home a run would end Labozzetta’s day, giving way to four relievers that stemmed the gap to Jack English (Delray Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman HS) who came in with the Eagles trailing in the eighth and tossed 1.1 scoreless innings, struck out three and picked up his second win of the season.
Ryan O’Malley (San Jose, Ca./College of San Mateo) provided the heroics in the ninth with FGCU trailing when he tripled with two runners on to push the Eagles ahead 7-6. He would go 2-4 on the afternoon with two runs and two RBI. Zack Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS) went 3-5 and Colton Bottomley (Davie, Fla./Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS) contributed two hits of his own, driving in two. Sterling Koerner (Fort Pierce, Fla./John Carrol HS), to a break from the mound to make the first start of his career at short, went 1-5 at the plate and drove in a run.
“It’s good to get a gritty win like this one,” head coach Dave Tollett added. “A young team learning how to win in big spots need to find a way to win games like this and we did that today. O’Malley came up with a big hit for us and Jack closed it down in the ninth. That’s all you can ask for.”
With the game still scoreless in the top of the fourth, Andrew Valencia (Miami, Fla/Gulliver Prep) singled up the middle and advanced when O’Malley singled right behind him. Koerner came to the plate and laced a double down the left field line to drive in the first run of the afternoon and Jake Noll (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS) followed with a ground out that brought in a second run to make it 2-0.
Despite the newly acquired lead, Labozzetta was unable to settle in in the bottom of the fourth but Mario Leon (Naples, Fla./Gulf Coast HS) came on in relief and worked out a bases loaded jam after the Rattlers were able to cut the lead in half. FAMU would add one run each of the following two innings however to gain a 3-2 lead off of the FGCU bullpen.
In the top of the seventh, Tillery singled with two out to bring up Nick Rivera (Cape Coral, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) who worked a walk, giving Tyler Selesky (Estero, Fla./Estero HS) and RBI opportunity. Selesky would deliver a line drive to center field that scored Tillery to tie the score but that would be all the Eagles would get in the seventh.
In the bottom half, Gabe Rivera (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) took over for Leon who finished with 3.0 innings to his credit during which he gave up just three hits and struck out three but allowed two runs and walked three. Rivera walked the first batter he faced, who eventually stole second, but retired the next two batters before giving up back-to-back singles up the middle that scored the go-ahead runs for FAMU and put FGCU in a 5-3 hole heading into the eighth.
O’Malley drew a walk to lead off the top of the eighth and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Koerner popped out and Noll would put a ball in play and reach on an error in the infield, advancing O’Malley to third for Gage Morey (West Palm Beach, Fla./PB Central) who walked to load the bases with one out. FAMU called on a new pitcher but Bottomley promptly singled, driving in two to tie the game at five.
Garrett Anderson (Arcadia, Fla./DeSoto HS) took over on the mound for Rivera in the bottom of the eighth after taking the loss at Florida State on Tuesday night and allowed the Rattlers to reclaim the lead, 6-5, before Andris Gonzalez (Miami, Fla./Indian River State College) came out of the bullpen to limit the damage. Gonzalez would induce a fly out for the second out of the frame and gave way to English who struck out his only batter of the eighth to end the threat.
Rivera would be hit by a pitch to lead off the ninth and Selesky would follow with a bunt single before Valencia struck out for the first out of the inning. With one away, O’Malley ripped his triple down the left field line to give the Eagles a 7-6 lead and provide English a chance to close out the Rattlers in the bottom half. The Delray Beach, Fla. native would do just that to allow FGCU to end the road trip with a win.
The Eagles will play their first A-Sun games of 2014 at home this weekend when Kennesaw State (13-18, 2-7 A-Sun) comes to town for a three-game set. The first game of the series will take place under the lights of Swanson Stadium on Friday night (Apr. 4) at 6:30 p.m. Game two is set for a 2 p.m. start on Saturday and the series concludes on Sunday at 1 p.m. At 5-1 the Green and Blue are currently atop the A-Sun standings heading into this weekend’s games.
ATLANTIC SUN CHAMPIONSHIP
For the first time in program history, the FGCU baseball team will play host to the 2014 Atlantic Sun Baseball Championship set to take place May 21-25 at Swanson Stadium. The top eight teams in the standings at the end of the regular season will advance to the championship and compete in a double-elimination style tournament to determine the A-Sun’s automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament. The Eagles are three-time A-Sun Regular Season Champions and finished second in the league last season.
Single-game tickets for FGCU Baseball are available at a cost of $6 for adults and $3 for children. Season tickets and tickets to the 2014 Atlantic Sun Championship are also available. For more information and additional deals, visit FGCUathletics.com/tickets, or call the ticket office at 239-590-7145.