3/1/2013 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 365
3/2/2013 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 392
3/2/2013 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 328
3/3/2013 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 206
FORT MYERS, Fla. – After opening the 2013 season with seven games away from Swanson Stadium, the No. 23 FGCU baseball team is set to begin an 11-game homestand, beginning with four games against Manhattan over the weekend and a single game against Big Ten foe Michigan on Monday night.
The Eagles and Jaspers will get their four-game set started with a 6:30 p.m. first pitch on Friday, followed by a Saturday doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. The two teams will return to Swanson Stadium on Sunday for one final meeting at 1 p.m.
FGCU will continue its stretch of five games in four days, when it plays host to Michigan on Monday evening at 6:30 p.m.
Sitting at 5-2 on the young season, the Eagles enter the weekend coming off a mid-week loss at FAU, 9-8, last Tuesday in Boca Raton, Fla. Trailing by four runs entering the ninth, the Green and Blue were unable to overcome the deficit, stranding the tying and go-ahead runs at second and third.
Prior to the trip to FAU, the Eagles climbed into the national rankings at No. 23 by Baseball America, thanks in large part to the three-game sweep of then-No. 13 Florida at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, Fla. last weekend. The sweep marked the first on the Gators’ home turf since Miami (Feb. 28-Mar. 1) did so during the 2009 campaign.
Earning victories in his first two starts on the year, junior right-hander Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS) is set to make his third start of the season on Friday night with Manhattan. The reigning Atlantic Sun Pitcher of the Year and this year’s Preseason Pitcher of the Year, Knapp holds a 1.20 ERA with nine strikeouts and one walk, holding opponents to a .163 average in 15 innings of work. In his last start at then-No. 13 Florida, the Port Charlotte, Fla. product supplied a complete game, the fifth of his career, allowing just two runs on six hits while striking out four hitters in a 92-pitch performance, including 70 strikes, an outing which garnered A-Sun Pitcher of the Week honors. The complete game was the first against the Gators since the 2011 season.
The Eagles have also announced that freshman right-hander Michael Murray (West Palm Beach, Fla./Forest Hill HS) (1-0) will start game one of the Saturday doubleheader. Through two appearances, including one start, this season, Murray holds a 2.61 ERA with four strikeouts and two walks, holding opponents to a .293 average through 10.1 innings of work. Earning his first victory in his first career appearance with the Green and Blue against St. John’s (Feb. 17), the first-year hurler went the final five frames, surrendering four hits and issuing one walk while striking out three. In his first career start at the-No. 13 Florida, Murray went 5.1 innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on eight hits with one walk and one strikeout in a no-decision.
FGCU has yet to name a starter for Saturday’s second contest, as well as the series finale on Sunday.
Redshirt senior Brooks Beisner (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS/Auburn) has powered the Green and Blue offense through the first seven games, hitting .464 with a 1.000 slugging percentages, adding 12 RBI, good for second in the A-Sun, seven runs scored and a team-high four home runs, which also ranks second in the league. Through the three-game series at Florida, the Port Charlotte, Fla. native hit .500 (6-for-12) and a 1.167 slugging percentage, recording a pair of doubles and home runs, adding six RBI and three runs scored while earning his first career A-Sun Player of the Week honor.
Starting all seven games and collecting a hit in each, senior Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary) is batting .333 with five RBI and six runs scored, while junior Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) holds a .321 average with a team-high nine runs scored, adding four RBI and one home run. Each hitting .310 with one home run and seven RBI, sophomore Michael Suchy (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast HS) and junior Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS) have combined for 10 runs scored.
Marking the first meeting between the programs, Manhattan travels to Fort Myers with a 0-3 record after dropping its three-game set at FIU (14-4, 18-6, 8-7) to open the 2013 season. The Jaspers have won three of the last seven MAAC Championships and four of five regular season crowns. The two-time defending conference champions return eight of nine starters from last year's club that won 33 games.
The Jaspers will utilize redshirt sophomore lefty Mike Martin (0-0, 4.15 ERA) in the series opener, followed by seniors right-hander John Soldinger (0-1, 10.80 ERA) and southpaw Matt Jordan (0-1, 54.00 ERA) in the Saturday doubleheader. Manhattan is set to close the four-game set with junior right-hander Scott McClennan (0-0, 7.50 ERA) on Sunday.
Nick Camastro leads the Jaspers’ offense, hitting .500 (6-for-12) with a home run, one RBI and four runs scored, while Ramon Ortega, Joe Rock and Joe McClennan are all sitting at .250 with a home run and having started all three games.
Finalizing a stretch of nine games in the state of Florida, Michigan (2-4) heads to Port Charlotte, Fla. to compete in four games (Mount St. Mary’s, Saint Louis (DH), Georgetown) at the Snowbird Invitational before landing at Swanson Stadium on Monday evening. The Wolverines dropped a three-game set, including two extra-inning games, at California, prior to taking two of three against Fordham in Port St. Lucie, Fla. last weekend.
Having started all six games, junior outfielder Michael O’Neil is hitting .429 with one home run, six RBI and a team-high seven runs scored entering the weekend. Sophomore catcher Kevin White (.350), senior outfielder Patrick Biondi (.348) and freshman Travis Maezes (.304) also sit above the .300 mark.
Marking the fourth-straight year the two squads will meet at Swanson Stadium, FGCU leads the all-time series 2-1, with the Eagles winning the previous two contests. The Green and Blue also hold a 21-18 edge in runs scored in the series.
With both FGCU and Michigan playing four games prior to Monday night’s meeting, neither team has announced a starter for the contest.
Tickets for all home contest are available online at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com/tickets or by calling the FGCU ticket office at 239-590-7145.
Friday, Mar. 1 – 6:30 p.m.
FGCU – RHP Ricky Knapp, Jr. (2-0, 1.20 ERA, 15.0 IP, 9 K, 1 BB, .163 B/Avg.)
MAN – LHP Michael Martin, R-So. (0-0, 4.15 ERA, 4.1 IP, 3 K, 0 BB, .235 B/Avg.)
Saturday, Mar. 2 – 1 p.m. (Game 1)
FGCU – RHP Michael Murray, Fr. (1-0, 2.61 ERA, 10.1 IP, 4 K, 2 BB, .293 B/Avg.)
MAN – RHP John Soldinger, Sr. (0-1, 10.80 ERA, 5.0 IP, 0 K, 2 BB, .368 B/Avg.)
Saturday, Mar. 2 (Game 2)
FGCU – TBA
MAN – LHP Matt Jordan, Sr. (0-1, 54.00 ERA, 1.0 IP, 1 K, 3 BB, .571 B/Avg.)
Sunday, Mar. 3 – 1:00 p.m.
FGCU – TBA
MAN – RHP Scott McClennan, Jr. (0-0, 7.50 ERA, 6.0 IP, 5 K, 1 BB, .308 B/Avg.)
Monday, Mar. 4 – 6:30 p.m.
FGCU – TBA
MICH – TBA
Fans can get updates and information on FGCU baseball all season long by visiting www.FGCUATHLETICS.com or by following the team on twitter @FGCU_Baseball.