2/17/2013 | Sarasota, Fla. | Attendance: 358
SARASOTA, Fla. – Solid pitching and timely hitting helped guide the FGCU baseball team to a 4-0 shutout victory over BIG EAST foe St. John’s, marking the second shutout victory in as many games between the two clubs over the weekend at the Snowbird Classic at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla.
Improving to 2-0 in the all-time series with St. John’s, the Eagles record moves to 2-1 as it prepares for a three-game road trip at No. 7 Florida in Gainesville, Fla. next weekend. The reigning BIG EAST regular season and tournament champion Red Storm drop to 0-4 on the young season, a year removed from a 2012 Super Regional appearance. The Green and Blue also earned a 6-0 shutout win over St. John’s in the 2013 season opener for both teams on Friday afternoon.
“We are 2-1 through the first three game, I wish we went undefeated but we saw great pitching all weekend and we are happy with our record but we are not satisfied,” said head coach Dave Tollett. “Now we have to prepare for our three-game series against Florida next week in Gainesville.”
In his first start of 2013, junior southpaw Brandon Bixler (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) provided four hitless innings of work, allowing no runs and accumulating six strikeouts against 14 batters in a no-decision. Earning his first victory in his first career appearance with the Green and Blue, freshman right-hander Michael Murray (West Palm Beach, Fla./Forest Hill HS) (1-0) went the final five frames, surrendering four hits and issuing one walk while striking out three.
For the third straight game the Green and Blue jumped out to an early advantage, taking a 2-0 lead in the home side of the second inning. Staying hot at the plate throughout the weekend, redshirt senior Brooks Beisner (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS/Auburn) got the inning going with a line drive double to the wall in centerfield, and came around to score on a RBI single to right field from sophomore Zack Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS). After a sacrifice bunt from sophomore Michael Suchy (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast HS) put runners on second and third courtesy of a throwing error from the St. John’s catcher, the Green and Blue established a two-run edge when freshman outfielder Colton Bottomley (Davie, Fla./Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS) connected for a sacrifice fly to left field which scored Tillery.
The lead climbed to 3-0 in the Eagles’ sixth inning after senior Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary) reached on a fielding error by the second baseman. Picking up his second RBI of the young season, junior outfielder Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS) roped a triple into the right field corner to bring in Reeves from first.
Reeves later gave the Eagles a 4-0 lead, after freshman third baseman Nick Rivera (Cape Coral, Fla./Biship Verot HS) reach on an error and Bottomley followed with an infield single to the pitcher. Following a fly ball to center that moved Rivera to third, Reeves sent a liner into shallow left field to plate Rivera from 90 feet away.
The Eagles scored four runs on seven hits while committing one defensive error. Each going 1-for-4, Tillery and Reeves each provided a run scored and an RBI, while Dwyer added an RBI and Beisner put a run on the board. Addtionally, Bottomley contributed with an RBI and Rivera accounted for the other FGCU run.
Red Storm starting righty James Lomangino (0-1) was hit with the loss after going the first six innings, and surrendering three runs (one earned) on five hits and three strikeouts. St. John’s finished the game with no runs on four hits while committing a trio of defensive miscues.
For the weekend, the Green and Blue hit .262 with 15 RBI and 15 runs scored, adding nine extra-base hits and a .417 slugging percentage. Starting all three games, Beisner led the way with a .538 batting average (7-for-13) and a 1.077 slugging percentage, recording five RBI, three runs scored, a pair of home runs and one double. Tillery was also highly productive at the plate, holding a .375 batting average (3-for-8) with a pair of RBI and three runs scored.
The pitching staff also had a strong weekend, allowing just six runs to maintain a 1.95 ERA with 22 strikeouts and just eight walks in 27.2 innings, while holding opposing hitters to a combined .208 average at the dish. Four arms on the staff pitches at least three innings while holding a 0.00 ERA, led by A-Sun Preseason Pitcher of the Year Ricky Knapp’s (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS) six-inning shutout performance against the Red Storm on Friday, in whish he struck out five hitters and allowed just two hits in the win.
FGCU will be back in action to begin a three-game series at No. 7 Florida on Friday, February 22 at 7 p.m. A preview of the weekend series with live stats, live audio and live video links will be available at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com leading up to the game.