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Knapp Fans Career-High 12 as FGCU Baseball Takes First A-Sun Meeting with NKU
|Win: KNAPP (7-2)||8.0||5||1||1||3||12|
|Loss: HARRIS (1-4)||3.2||6||3||3||4||3|
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Fanning 12 batters over eight strong innings, junior right-hander Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS) helped the FGCU baseball team roll to a 6-1 victory over Northern Kentucky on Friday evening at Swanson Stadium in the first-ever Atlantic Sun Conference meeting between the two schools.
The victory pushed the Eagles’ record to 23-16 overall this season, as well as 9-7 in A-Sun contests. Meanwhile, the Norse dropped to 8-33 this year and slid to 3-12 in their first season in the league.
Improving to 7-2 on the year, Knapp sat down a career-best 12 batters over eight innings, allowing just one run on five hits and three walks in a 124-pitch showing. The outing lowered the Port Charlotte, Fla. product’s ERA to 1.84 this season, having limited opponents to a .219 average at the plate. In addition to his ERA and opposing average, Knapp leads the Eagles with 59 strikeouts and has issued just 14 walks in a team-best 73.1 innings of work this season.
FGCU went out in front 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning when junior Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) moved runners to the corners on a single to third base following a walk to senior Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary) to begin the inning. Junior Sean Dwyer (Tavares, Fla./Tavares HS) drove in the first tally of the game on a hard liner into left field for the early one-run lead.
The Eagles’ advantage grew to 3-0 in the home side of the fourth, finding runners on second and third with a walk to freshman Colton Bottomley (Davies, Fla./Marjorie Stoneman Douglas HS), a bunt single from sophomore Alex Diaz (Miami, Fla./Ferguson HS) and a sacrifice bunt by Reeves. Bednar upped his team-leading RBI total to 38, adding two on a single back up the middle that plated both base runners.
NKU recorded its lone run in the contest on a solo home run off the bat of freshman Logan Spurlin in the top of the fifth, cutting the deficit to 3-1.
Answering with two more runs in the bottom of the sixth, the Green and Blue moved ahead 5-1. Bednar reached with one out on a throwing error by the third baseman and Dwyer followed with a five-pitch walk. After freshman Nick Rivera (Cape Coral, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) scored Bednar on a single up the middle, redshirt senior Brooks Beisner (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS/Auburn) was able to bring in Dwyer on another single in the frame to right field.
An insurance run came across for FGCU in the bottom of the seventh when Bottomley began the inning with a double over the right fielder’s head. Advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt from Diaz, Bottomley later touched the plate on a single to first base by Reeves.
Entering the game to close out the ninth, sophomore right-hander Jack English (Delray Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman HS) worked a scoreless inning, striking out two of three batters faced to preserve the 6-1 victory.
The Eagles opened the weekend with six runs on 12 hits and one NKU error. Dwyer went 2-for-3 in the game with a pair of walks, adding a run scored and one RBI. Driving in two RBI, Bednar recorded a 2-for-5 game with a run scored. Hitting in the leadoff spot, Reeves hit 1-for-3 with a run scored and a RBI, while Bottomley scored twice in a 1-for-2 game with a double and a pair of walks. Additionally, Diaz went 2-for-2 with a walk and a run scored, and Beisner supplied a 3-for-5 night with a double and one RBI.
NKU scored one run on five hits. Freshman right-hander Aric Harris (1-4) took the loss in the contest, opening the first 3.2 innings and allowing three runs on six hits and four walks while recording three strikeouts.
The two schools are set to return to Swanson Stadium for the second of three games over the weekend. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday, with Sunday’s finale set to follow at noon.
FGCU Probable Starters
Sat. – RHP Michael Murray, Fr. (4-1, 10 GP/9 GS, 2.78 ERA, 58.1 IP, 33 K, 10 BB, .26- B/Avg.)
Sun. - TBA
NKU Probable Starters
Sat. – LHP Matt Jefferson, Jr. (1-6, 10 GP/10 GS, 4.50 ERA, 62.0 IP, 38 K, 22 BB, .346 B/Avg.)
Sun. – RHP Blake Bagshaw, Sr. (1-7, 10 GP/10 GS, 6.99 ERA, 47.2 IP, 22 K, 10 BB, .314 B/Avg.)
Live stats, in-game Twitter updates (@FGCU_Baseball), box score results and recaps will be available at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com for each contest in the series. Tickets for all home contests are available online at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com/tickets or by calling the FGCU ticket office at 239-590-7145.