2/23/2013 | Gainesville, FL | Attendance: 3901
|Loss: Tucker Simpson
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – After taking down No. 13 Florida in the Friday night opener, the FGCU baseball team earned the series victory by defeating the Gators, 8-3, on Saturday evening at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, Fla. The win marks the first home series loss by UF since Arkansas (April 27-29) last season and first mid-major foe to earn a series win over the Gators since VMI (Feb. 9-11) during the 2007 season.
The Eagles improved to 4-1 on the season as they look to complete the series sweep on Sunday afternoon at 12:30 p.m., a contest which will be aired live on Fox Sun Sports channel 653 on Directv and 402 on Comcast Xfinity. Meanwhile, the Gators dropped to 3-4 this season in the losing effort.
“I am happy with the way our team performed through the opening two games,” said head coach Dave Tollett. “After a few pitches in the first inning, I felt like Bixler gained some momentum and pitched a quality game for us overall this evening. Also, the offense has put some runs up to give our pitchers some support in the later stages of the game. Still, a tough challenge lies in front of us tomorrow, but it’s certainly one we are looking forward to.”
Opening the game on the bump, junior lefty Brandon Bixler (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) earned his first win (1-0) of the year, allowing one run on four hits and three walks to go with four strikeouts in five innings or work. Through his two starts this season, the Oviedo, Fla. product holds a 1.00 ERA and a .148 opponent average, registering 10 strikeouts and issuing four walks in nine frames on the hill.
Florida opened the scoring in its first chance at the plate, after a walk and a hit-by-pitch was followed with a groundout to the pitcher to put runners on second and third. Justin Shafer then stepped to the plate and sent a double into shallow centerfield to plate the runner from third for the early 1-0 UF lead.
In the Eagles’ side of the fifth, sophomore Michael Suchy (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast HS) opened the frame with a single into center field and moved to second on a groundout to third base. Redshirt sophomore Alex Diaz (Miami, Fla./Ferguson HS) then stepped in the box and laced a double into left, as the Green and Blue knotted the game at one apiece. FGCU established its first lead in the contest when a single up the middle from senior Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary) plated Diaz from second base for the 2-1 edge.
FGCU moved its lead to 5-1 in the top of the sixth, as a one-out walk from junior Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) and a single to left field from sophomore Zack Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS) got the inning started. Sending a frozen rope over the student section bleachers in left field, Suchy cleared the bases in the next at-bat with his first career home run for the Eagles.
The Gators cut the FGCU lead 5-2 in next half inning on a two-out bases loaded walk to senior Vickash Ramjit.
Two more runs were put on the scoreboard in the Eagles’ seventh inning. Freshman Tyler Selesky (Estero, Fla./Estero HS) opened the stanza with a single through the left side and quickly came around to score on a one-out triple to the center field wall by junior Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS), his second three-bagger of the season. Dwyer would later score in the inning with two outs, on another triple off the bat of Bednar, his first of the year.
Finding runners on first and second following a one-out single to Reeves and a walk by Dwyer, the Eagles tacked on one more in the top of the final inning. Senior Brooks Beisner (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS/Auburn) connected for an RBI into left field to score Reeves, giving the Green and Blue an 8-2 lead.
UF supplied the final run in the bottom of the ninth when a one-out double to left center was followed by an RBI single up the middle from freshman Brady Roberson, making the final line read 8-3 in favor of the Eagles.
FGCU scored eight runs while matching a season-high 11 hits. Suchy led the offensive effort, going 2-for-3 with two runs scored and three RBI on the home run. The top seven hitters in the lineup each supplied at least one hit in the contest, with Reeves (2-for-5) and Beisner (2-for-4) each contributing an RBI and Reeves adding a run scored.
Finishing the final four frames for the Eagles, senior lefty R.J. Brown (Brandon, Fla./Bloomingdale HS) earned the first save of the year for the Green and Blue, recording one strikeout, issuing one walk and allowing three hits against 19 Gator hitters.
UF starter Tucker Simpson (0-1) was credited with the loss after going 4.2 innings and allowing two runs on three hits with a trio of punchouts and one walk. The Gators plated three runs on seven hits in the game.
The two squads will be back in action for the series finale on Sunday afternoon. The Eagles plan to use freshman right-hander Michael Murray (West Palm Beach, Fla./Forest Hill HS) (1-0, 0.00 ERA) against UF freshman righty Eric Hanhold (0-0, 6.75 ERA) in the contest.
Sunday, Feb. 24 – 12:30 p.m.
FGCU – RHP Michael Murray, Fr. (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 5 IP, 3 K, 1 BB, .222 B/Avg.)
UF – RHP Eric Hanhold, Fr. (0-0, 6.75 ERA, 1.1 IP, 2 K, 0 BB, .250 B/Avg.)
Fans can get updates and information on FGCU baseball all season long by visiting www.FGCUATHLETICS.comby following the team on twitter @FGCU_Baseball.