Jacksonville Comes to Swanson Stadium to Meet FGCU in A-Sun Weekend Action
Thursday, May 02, 2013 | by Caleb Baker
Photo by Dennis Snyder
Photo by Dennis Snyder
Jacksonville (14-30, 7-12 A-Sun)
FGCU (28-16, 12-7 A-Sun)
5/3/2013 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 197
Win: KNAPP (8-2) 7.071004
Loss: MADDEN (2-3) 0.033310
LUTHER (JU) 302010
HUXTABLE (JU) 302000
SUCHY (FGCU) 523100
BEDNAR (FGCU) 513100

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Atlantic Sun Conference action continues this weekend for the FGCU baseball team, as it plays host to Jacksonville for three games at Swanson Stadium, starting with a 6:30 p.m. first pitch on Friday evening.

The two teams return for a 6 p.m. start on Saturday and close the trio of games at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

The Eagles head into the league set with a 27-16 overall record, which includes an 11-7 mark in A-Sun play to sit fourth in the conference standings. Currently seventh in the A-Sun standings, the Dolphins come to Fort Myers with a 14-29 (7-11 A-Sun) mark. With a 118-52 record in its six seasons in the A-Sun, FGCU holds a slim advantage in the all-time series between the schools at 8-7.

FGCU is coming off a mid-week non-conference doubleheader against FIU last Wednesday in Miami, Fla. After sitting out a four-hour rain delay, the Eagles took game one against the Panthers, 8-6, before closing the pair of games with a 10-4 victory in the second contest to extend its current win streak to five games.

Last weekend in A-Sun play, the Eagles completed the weekend sweep of Northern Kentucky (April 26-28) on Sunday with a convincing 12-2 win, marking the largest margin of victory of the year. The Green and Blue completed the sweep after taking game one on Friday, 6-1, behind a career-high 12 strikeouts over eight innings from junior right-hander Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS), and using a walk-off single from redshirt senior Brooks Beisner (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS/Auburn) in the bottom of the 10th in game two for a 3-2 victory on Saturday.

Hitting .348 this season, junior utility man Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) has brought in a team-best 38 RBI and scored a team-high 41 times while also topping the squad with a .471 slugging percentage on 18 extra-base hits and six stolen bases. In league action, the Stuart, Fla. native holds a .341 average and a team-best .488 slugging percentage, while leading the team with 17 runs scored and 16 RBI against A-Sun foes.

Reaching base at a team best .425 rate, senior catcher Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary) is hitting .337 this season with 33 runs scored and 18 RBI while supplying 18 sacrifice hits, to rank tied for fifth in the nation. Reeves leads the Green and Blue with a .358 average in A-Sun play, recording a .427 on-base percentage and adding nine runs scored and five RBI.

Beisner is hitting .313 this season while supplying the Eagles with five home runs, 31 RBI and 27 runs scored. In last weekend’s A-Sun series with NKU, Beisner batted .571 (8-for-14) with two doubles, two runs scored and three RBI, while Bednar hit .462 (6-for-13) and scored a team-high five times with two RBI.

The Eagles are likely to use a combination of Knapp, freshman right-hander Michael Murray (West Palm Beach, Fla./Forest Hill HS) and junior right-hander Harrison Cooney (Vero Beach, Fla./Vero Beach HS) over the three games.

Recording a career-high 12 strikeouts in the A-Sun series opener last Friday night against NKU (April 26), Knapp was named Pitcher of the Week, announced by the league office on Monday afternoon. Improving to 7-2 (3-2 A-Sun) on the year with the 6-1 win over the Norse, 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 start lowered the Port Charlotte, Fla. product’s ERA to 1.84 on the year to rank third in the conference, as he has held opposing hitters to a .219 average at the plate. With a team-best ERA and opposing average, Knapp also leads the Eagles with 59 strikeouts, good for fourth in the A-Sun, and has issued just 14 walks in a team-best 73.1 innings of work this season.

Earning a no-decision after a strong start in his last outing against NKU (April 27), Murray recorded 11-straight outs to open the contest, surrendering a walk with two outs in the fourth for the first NKU base runner of the game. The West Palm Beach, Fla. native went six innings and finished the contest with a pair of runs on three hits and two walks, while striking out a career-best 10 strikeouts. This season, Murray holds a 4-1 record and a 2.80 ERA in his 64.1 innings of work, recording 43 strikeouts and keeping opponents to a .250 average at the plate.

Making just his second start of the season this weekend, Cooney (3-5) has totaled 46.2 innings through his 17 appearances. The Vero Beach, Fla. native has registered 42 punch outs and kept opponents to a .240 average at the plate. In A-Sun games, Cooney sits with a 2-1 record and a 1.96 ERA in his 18.1 frames on the bump, recording 16 strikeouts and establishing a .246 opponent average. Holding NKU (April 28) hitless through the first 4.1 innings in his first start of the season, the third-year pitcher earned the victory after tossing six scoreless innings and allowing just two hits and a walk while striking out five of the 21 batters faced.

Having not played a mid-week game this week, the Dolphins come into the series after dropping the three-game A-Sun set at home with North Florida (L 10-2, L 10-4, L 12-1) last weekend. Aside from the series with the Ospreys, JU has not been swept in any other A-Sun series, winning league series against USC Upstate (March 22-24) and at Kennesaw State (April 12-14) with two victories in each set.

The Dolphins are led offensively by freshman outfielder Dylan Dillard hitting .315, adding 13 RBI and leading the team with a .533 slugging percentage, matching a team-best 20 runs scored. Junior outfielder Zach Houck (.313) and senior infielder Jake Huxtable (.304) also sit above the .300 mark and have matched the team best 20 runs scored, while combining for 17 RBI.

Recently named to the 60-man midseason watch list for the prestigious Golden Spikes Award, junior right-hander Chris Anderson (6-4, 2.82 ERA) is scheduled to start game two of the weekend series on Saturday. In 79.2 innings of work, highlighted by two complete games, Anderson has recorded 86 strikeouts to lead the A-Sun while maintaining a .227 opponent batting average. The Dolphins will follow with sophomore right-hander Alex McRae (3-5, 3.97 ERA) on Sunday, and have yet to name a starter for the opening contest on Friday evening.

In last season’s meeting between the two sides in Jacksonville, the Dolphins took the three-game set with the Eagles with wins in the final two contests (W 7-3, L 3-0, L 9-4).

FGCU Probable Starters
RHP Ricky Knapp, Jr. (7-2, 10 GP/10 GS, 1.84 ERA, 73.1 IP, 59 K, 14 BB, .219 B/Avg.)
RHP Michael Murray, Fr. (4-1, 11 GP/10 GS, 2.80 ERA, 64.1 IP, 43 K, 12 BB, .250 B/Avg.)
RHP Harrison Cooney, Jr. (3-5, 17 GP/1 GS, 2.89 ERA, 46.2 IP, 42 K, 22 BB, .240 B/Avg.)

JU Probable Starters
Fri. – TBA
Sat. – RHP Chris Anderson, Jr. (6-4, 11 GP/11 GS, 2.82 ERA, 79.2 IP, 86 K, 19 BB, .227 B/Avg.)
Sun. – RHP Alex McRae, So. (3-5, 13 GP/11 GS, 3.97 ERA, 70.1 IP, 34 K, 21 BB, .264 B/Avg.)

Live stats, in-game Twitter updates (@FGCU_Baseball), box score results and recaps will be available at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com throughout the weekend. Tickets for all home contests are available online at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com/tickets or by calling the FGCU ticket office at 239-590-7145.