3/3/2013 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 206
FORT MYERS, Fla. – In his third start of the season, junior left-hander Brandon Bixler (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) registered a season-high 11 strikeouts to help the Eagles secure a series victory over visiting Manhattan with a 3-0 shutout on Sunday afternoon at Swanson Stadium.
FGCU moved to 8-3 on the season while Manhattan dropped to 1-6. After taking the opening two games (6-2, 1-0) in the series, the Eagles dropped the third contest (6-5) before earning the series win with the shutout. Marking the first meetings between the schools, the Eagles now hold a 3-1 lead in the all-time series between the two programs.
“After dropping a tough one yesterday in game two, it was nice to see the team bounce back for the series win today,” said head coach Dave Tollett. “Bixler came out strong and provided a quality start on the mound for us today. It took us a little time to get the bats going, but we have to give credit to Manhattan’s arms for their performance today.”
Surrendering just three hits in his seven scoreless innings of work, Bixler punched out 11 batters while walking three in a 93-pitch performance. The 11 strikeouts mark the third time in his career that he has fanned double-digits in a game. During the 2012 season, Bixler recorded a career-high 14 strikeouts in a win over Kennesaw State (April 29), a total which sat just one away from former FGCU Eagle and current Chicago White Sox pitcher Chris Sale’s program record of 15. This season, the Oviedo, Fla. native holds a 0.56 ERA with an opponent batting average of .137, allowing just seven hits and recording a team-best 21 strikeouts in 16.0 innings of work.
The Eagles plated a pair of runs in the home half of the sixth to break into the scoring column. Sophomore Michael Suchy (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast HS) opened the inning with a single up the middle before moving to second on a sacrifice bunt from classmate Zack Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS). Freshman Nick Rivera (Cape Coral, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) provided the first run in the contest with an RBI double to right center that brought Suchy in to score. Later in the frame with two away, a single through the left side from junior Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) scored Rivera for the 2-0 FGCU advantage.
FGCU added an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh after redshirt senior Brooks Beisner (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS/Auburn) reached on a double to center field and moved to third on an infield grounder. Manhattan’s attempted pick-off of Beisner was misplayed by the third baseman, allowing the Eagles to take a 3-0 lead in the game.
Entering in relief of Bixler in the eighth, junior right-hander Danny Patrick (Jupiter, Fla./Jupiter HS/Pepperdine/Palm Beach State College) went the final two innings, allowing just one hit and adding one strikeout in his first save of the season.
The Eagles scored three runs on six hits and a pair of Manhattan errors. Bednar led the way, going 2-for-4 with a RBI, while Beisner and Suchy each went 1-for-4 with a run scored. Rivera accounted for the other run scored, going 1-for-3 with a RBI.
Manhattan senior lefty starter Matt Jordan dropped to 0-2 on the year, after going the first 5.2 innings and allowing a pair of runs on four hits and seven walks, adding one strikeout.
For the series, the Eagles combined to hit .295 with 14 RBI and 15 runs scored. Beisner went 9-for-16 (.563) over the four games with one double, one triple, three RBI and two runs scored. Bednar held a .400 (6-for-15) mark at the plate, driving in four RBI and scoring three times. Additionally, senior Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary) batted .333 (4-for-12) in the series, adding a run scored.
FGCU continues its 11-game homestand as it plays host to Big Ten foe Michigan on Monday evening at Swanson Stadium. 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. Both teams have yet to name a starter for the 6:30 p.m. first pitch.
Tickets for all home contest are available online at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com/tickets or by calling the FGCU ticket office at 239-590-7145.
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.