(35-19, 18-7 A-Sun)
(29-25, 16-9 A-Sun)
5/15/2014 | Nashville, Tenn. | Attendance: 231
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Mike Murray suffered his first defeat of the year as Lipscomb (29-25, 16-9 Atlantic Sun Conference) claimed an 11-6 win over the FGCU baseball team (35-19, 18-7 A-Sun) Thursday night. Despite the loss, the Eagles remain in first place in the league standings – one game clear of Mercer, which fell at ETSU.
With the Mercer setback, FGCU will clinch at least a share of its fourth A-Sun regular-season championship with a win in the second game of the series Friday night. With a victory and another Mercer loss, FGCU will win the conference title outright in advance of Saturday’s regular-season finale with the Bisons.
Murray (West Palm Beach, Fla./Forrest Hill HS) was looking to extend his national lead in victories as he was going for his 13th against the Bisons. However, deep counts and a four-run 5th inning hurt the right hander as his record slid to 12-1 following 5 innings of work in which he allowed eight hits, stuck out five and walked one. The sophomore’s league-leading ERA is now 1.70 – still nearly a full run better than anyone else in the A-Sun, and he continues to pace the conference in strike outs with 78.
Jake Noll (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS) moved into a tie for second on the program’s single-season hit list with a 2-for-5 performance and an RBI. Noll’s hit total now stands at 92, while his 90 base knocks on the year coming into the game were good for the third-most in the nation. Michael Suchy (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast HS) put together a 2-for-3 effort with two doubles and a walk, while Blake Berger (Jacksonville, Fla./Santa Fe College) and Cody Hoffner (Sebring, Fla./Broward College) both went 2-for-5. Hoffner hit his sixth home run of the year and added an RBI in the 9th inning, while Alex Diaz (Miami, Fla./John A. Ferguson HS) drove in FGCU’s only other run on a fielder’s choice ground out.
“It was a disappointing effort tonight, no question about it,” head coach Dave Tollett said. “We just didn’t respond well to Lipscomb’s big innings. The good news is we’re still in a great position and we have a chance to come back tomorrow and move closer to our goal of an A-Sun regular-season title.”
Lipscomb scored all of its runs in two innings as in addition to the four-run 5th, the Bisons also tallied a seven-run 7th to put the game out of the reach. Hoffner broke a scoreless tie in the 5th with his solo shot over the left-field fence to give FGCU a 1-0 lead. However, Lipscomb responded by putting together four straight hits – including three run-scoring doubles – in the bottom of the frame.
The Bisons carried that 4-1 edge into the 7th where Berger led off with a double down the left-field line and Gage Morey (West Palm Beach, Fla./PB Central) followed by using his speed to beat out a single to the left side of the infield. With Berger on third, Diaz grounded out to the third baseman to trim the deficit to 4-2, but that’s all the scoring the Green and Blue could muster in the inning.
In the bottom of the 7th, Lipscomb tallied all seven of its runs before the Eagles could record an out. However, trailing 11-2 heading to the 9th, FGCU didn’t go down without a fight as the Eagles pushed across four runs and had runners on second and third when the final out was made. Noll drove in the first run of the inning with a single to left, and two more runs came around to score a dropped pop up by Lipscomb catcher Nick Rome. Hoffner’s second RBI of the night – and FGCU’s final run – followed as he singled to left on an 0-2 pitch.
Freshman Garrett Anderson (Arcadia, Fla./DeSoto HS) had thrown well as of late, but came in out of relief of Murray and allowed six earned runs in just one inning of work. Brad Labozzetta (Lakeland, Fla./Lakeland HS) tossed the final two innings, scattering three hits and allowing one run. Entering the game, FGCU ranked second in the A-Sun in pitching with a 3.18 team ERA.
Brady Anderson (Arcadia, Fla./DeSoto HS) is expected to get the start in Friday’s game. He will look to get the FGCU staff back on track as his 4-2 record is accompanied by a 2.47 ERA – second only to Murray among A-Sun pitchers. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. EDT (5 p.m. CST), and the game will be broadcast free of charge on A-Sun TV.
Full coverage of each game, including live stats and video can be found at FGCUAthletics.com. If you can’t reach a computer, follow @FGCU_Baseball on Twitter or “like” FGCU Baseball on Facebook for daily news, photos and a constant stream of live updates during each game.
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.
Tickets to the 2014 Atlantic Sun Championship are now available. General admission day passes are available for $10 and tournament passes can be purchased for $35. Reserved seating day passes are available for $15 and tournament reserved seating passes are available for $55. For more information and additional deals, visit FGCUathletics.com/tickets, or call the ticket office at 239-590-7145.