@FGCU_Baseball Finally Returns Home, Welcomes Kennesaw State
Thursday, April 03, 2014 | by Matt Moretti III (@Moretts13)
Photo Courtesy: Linwood Ferguson
Photo Courtesy: Linwood Ferguson
Kennesaw State (14-19)
FGCU (20-11)
4/4/2014 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 322
Kennesaw State000000000040
Win: MURRAY (7-0) 9.040004
Loss: HILLYER (2-3) 8.0135524
WAY (KSU) 401000
BENNETT (KSU) 301000
BAHNICK (KSU) 301000
NOLL (FGCU) 503000

Apr. 4-6 | Swanson Stadium | 6:30 PM, 2 PM, 1 PM

Game Links | Live Stats | Tickets 

Social | @FGCU_Baseball | FGCU Baseball (FB)

Game 1 – Friday, April 4 – 6:30 p.m.
FGCU – Mike Murray (6-0): 0.50 ERA, 53.2 IP, 37 H, 10 R, 3 ER, 6 BB, 53 SO
KSU –  Jordan Hillyer (2-2): 3.65 ERA, 37.0 IP, 39 H, 20 R, 15 ER, 14 BB, 32 SO

Game 2 – Saturday, April 5 – 2 p.m.
FGCU – Nick Deckert (4-2): 2.74 ERA, 42.2 IP, 55 H, 20 R, 13 ER, 7 BB, 45 SO
KSU – Travis Bergen (3-4): 3.60 ERA, 40.0 IP, 43 H, 18 R, 16 ER, 5 BB, 41 SO

Game 3 – Sunday, April 6 – 1 p.m.
FGCU – Jack English (2-1): 2.10 ERA, 30.0 IP, 23 H, 12 R, 7 ER, 10 BB, 27 SO
KSU – Nathan Harsh (2-3): 5.61 ERA, 34.1 IP, 43 H, 25 R, 21 ER, 15 BB, 33 SO

­­– The FGCU baseball team (19-11, 5-1 Atlantic Sun) finally returns home after a season-long, nine-game road trip and looks to continue its hot start in A-Sun play when it welcomes Kennesaw State (14-18, 2-7 Atlantic Sun) this weekend at Swanson Stadium.

The Green and Blue hold a 14-7 series record against the Owls heading into this weekend’s match up. KSU has won two of three meetings, however, in the A-Sun Tournament with the most recent coming just last season when the seventh-seeded Owls defeated the second-seeded Eagles in the first round.

Last year Kennesaw had an overall record of 30-30 (13-14 A-Sun) and were eliminated in the sixth game of the A-Sun Tournament. Despite their losing record, the Owls are outscoring opponents 179-158 so far this season and are seventh in the nation in hits with 322. Max Pentecost has paced KSU offensively; batting .363 with three homeruns and 23 runs batted. As a team, the Owls are hitting .280 this season and have four players with a .323 batting average or better. On the mound KSU has a 3.74 team ERA which ranks third in the A-Sun behind FGCU (3.02) and Mercer (3.15).

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.

After his last start Murray (West Palm Beach, Fla./Forrest Hill HS) is sixth in the nation with a 0.50 ERA, tied for third with six victories, his 53 strikeouts have him tied for ninth and his 0.80 WHIP is ranked 24th. In his last outing, Murray would give up seven hits, walk one, strikeout four and allow two runs, both earned and finished with the first complete game victory of his career. Those two earned runs in the sixth inning snapped a streak of 43.1 innings during which Murray did not allow an earned run and saw his ERA drop as low as 0.18.

During the nine-game road swing, Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS) found a groove at the plate hitting .419 during that span, collecting 19 hits, nine RBI and a pair of homeruns. Opposite Stetson in the first game of a doubleheader, the Naples native went 5-5 with two doubles, scored twice and drove in three runs.

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.

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.

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.