FGCU Rides Win Streak into Critical A-Sun Weekend Series at UNF
Thursday, May 09, 2013 | by Caleb Baker
Photo by J. Meric
Photo by J. Meric
Florida Gulf Coast (32-17, 14-8 A-Sun)
North Florida (35-14, 16-6 A-Sun)
5/10/2013 | Jacksonville, Fla. | Attendance: 377
Florida Gulf Coast002000230007121
North Florida000042100018150
Win: OLMSTEAD (4-0) 5.053306
Loss: ENGLISH (1-2) 3.231132
RIVERA (FGCU) 523101
BROOKS (UNF) 523101

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Only two Atlantic Sun Conference series remain on the regular season slate and the FGCU baseball team faces a critical road set with current A-Sun co-leader North Florida beginning Friday at 6 p.m. at Harmon Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla.

The teams return to the field on Saturday and Sunday for the final two meetings, both scheduled for a 1 p.m. first pitch.

The Eagles (32-16) enter the weekend in sole possession of third place in the league standings with a 14-7 conference record. Meanwhile, the Ospreys (34-14) sit in a share of the top spot alongside Mercer, each holding a 15-6 mark in A-Sun play. With an all-time record of 118-53 in the A-Sun, FGCU leads the all-time series with UNF, 12-5, including a 5-1 mark when playing on the road.

Extending its winning streak to an A-Sun season-best 10-straight games, the Eagles took both games of a non-conference doubleheader with Florida A&M in Tallahassee, Fla. on Wednesday, defeating the Rattlers 13-3, 13-4. During the current 10-game streak, FGCU is batting .363 as a team. The Green and Blue have eight players hitting above .310 during that stretch, including three players over .425.

In last weekend’s league series sweep of Jacksonville, the Eagles hit a combined .366 with a .516 slugging and .465 on-base percentage, scoring 25 runs and collecting 23 RBI. Junior Brandon Bednar (Stuart, Fla./South Fork HS) led the offense on the weekend, hitting .545 (6-for-11) with a .545 slugging percentage and .643 on-base percentage with four runs scored. Collecting 12 total bases over the three games, sophomore Michael Suchy (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast HS) held a .462 average (6-for-13) while leading the team with two home runs, five RBI and five runs scored. Suchy’s effort in the trio of A-Sun games combined with a .444 average (4-for-9) in the pair of games last Wednesday with FIU, which included a home run, a pair of RBI and three runs scored, earned the second-year player his first career A-Sun Player of the Week honor.

Sitting fifth in the A-Sun with a .361 batting average, Bednar leads the Green and Blue with 47 runs scored, good for fifth in the A-Sun, 44 RBI and seven stolen bases in nine attempts. Also with the most extra-base hits on the team (18), the third-year player holds the second-best slugging percentage on the team of .471 and while recording a .420 on-base percentage. In A-Sun contests, Bednar ups hit average to .366 with 21 runs scored and 17 RBI, all of which lead FGCU. As a true utility player, the Stuart, Fla. native has a team-best .486 on-base percentage in league games.

Senior catcher Mike Reeves (Peterborough, Ontario/St. Peter’s Secondary) is second on the team with a .342 average and 40 runs scored, while driving in 21 RBI and leading the team with a .429 on-base percentage. With 19 sacrifices on the season, the Peterborough, Ontario product sits third in the nation in the category.

Swinging a hot bat as of late, redshirt senior Brooks Beisner (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS/Auburn) holds a .328 average with five home runs and 39 RBI, the second most on the team. Suchy has also raised his average to .310 recently, leading the team with seven home runs and stealing six bases to sit second on the squad.

Utilizing the same weekend rotation for the third straight week, the Eagles will go with junior right-hander Ricky Knapp (Port Charlotte, Fla./Port Charlotte HS) in the Friday night opener and follow with freshman righty Michael Murray (West Palm Beach, Fla./Forest Hill HS) and junior right-hander Harrison Cooney (Vero Beach, Fla./Vero Beach HS) on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

Currently third in the A-Sun with a 1.68 ERA and fifth with a .223 opponent average, Knapp holds an 8-2 record in his 11 starts this season, collecting 80.1 innings on the mound. The third-year arm has 63 strikeouts to lead the Green and Blue, and has issued only 14 walks which is the fewest among starters. Against league competition, the Port Charlotte, Fla. native has a 4-2 record and has retired 41 batters by way of strikeout in 49.1 innings of work.  In his Friday night start last weekend against Jacksonville, the A-Sun Preseason Pitcher of the Year and two-time A-Sun Pitcher of the Week went seven innings, allowing just one run on seven hits and no walks while striking out four.

Greatly contributing to the Eagles efforts in his first season on campus, Murray heads into his 12th collegiate start with a 5-1 record and a 2.79 ERA in 71 innings of work. The West Palm Beach, Fla. product has 46 strikeouts this season and allowed only 15 walks, while keeping opponents to a .252 mark at the plate. In his previous outing last Saturday against the Dolphins, Murray earned his fifth win of the season after going 6.2 innings, allowing a pair of runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out three batters.

Slated for his third start of the year after beginning the season as the Eagles’ closer, Cooney (4-5) will toe the rubber on Sunday with a 2.73 ERA and a .232 opponent average. In his 18 appearances, the third-year pitcher has accumulated 52.2 innings and a team-high five saves, while retiring 50 hitters through strikeout, to rank third on the team. Sitting at 3-1 in A-Sun action, Cooney has lowered his ERA to 1.85 and his opponent average to .228, recording 24 strikeouts in 24.1 innings. Opening the game on the mound last Sunday versus JU, Cooney provided six innings and allowed just two runs (one earned) while striking out a season-high eight batters and issuing two walks in a 97-pitch performance.

UNF enters this weekend tied atop the A-Sun standings with a 15-6 record and is 34-14 overall. The Ospreys are coming off a 1-2 weekend that saw them lose two of three at Stetson (L 4-9, L 6-7, W 3-0) to fall back into a tie for first place in the conference with Mercer.

Joe Wielbruda leads the club with a .362 average and a team-high 72 hits. Ryan Roberson is right behind Weilbruda, hitting at a .355 clip with 55 hits, which includes 16 that went for extra bases. Unanimous Preseason All-Atlantic Sun Team selection Tyler Marincov is batting .322 with 64 hits, 14 doubles, five triples and four homeruns on the season. All nine starters for the Ospreys are currently hitting over .300.

The Ospreys are sending out senior left handed starter Tommy Organ in the Friday night matchup. Organ is 5-2 on the year with a 3.28 ERA in 14 appearances (12 starts). In 71.1 innings of work, Organ has allowed 32 runs on 76 hits while striking out 45 batters.

In the second game, UNF will throw senior righty Nick Allbritton. Allbritton is 4-6 on the year with a 4.38 ERA in 11 game starts. Allbritton has allowed 44 runs, on 86 hits and fanned 36 batters in 72 innings of work.

UNF will send senior left-hander Michael Renner in the finale on Sunday. Renner leads the club with a 9-0 record, a 1.43 ERA and a .222 opponent average, all of which rank second the A-Sun. In 13 appearances, Renner has allowed 17 runs on 63 hits and fanned a team-high 46 batters in 76.1 innings pitched.

Live stats, in-game Twitter updates (@FGCU_Baseball), box scores, results and a recap of the pair of games will be available at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com.

FGCU Probable Starters
Fri. – RHP Ricky Knapp, Jr. (8-2, 11 GP/11 GS, 1.68 ERA, 80.1 IP, 63 K, 14 BB, .223 B/Avg.)
Sat. – RHP Michael Murray, Fr. (5-1, 12 GP/11 GS, 2.79 ERA, 71.0 IP, 46 K, 15 BB, .252 B/Avg.)
Sun. – RHP Harrison Cooney, Jr. (4-5, 18 GP/2 GS, 2.73 ERA, 52.2 IP, 50 K, 24 BB, .232 B/Avg.)

UNF Probable Starters
Fri. – LHP Tommy Organ, Sr. (5-2, 14 GP/12 GS, 3.28 ERA, 71.1 IP, 45 K, 13 BB, .279 B/Avg.)
Sat. – RHP Nick Allbritton, Sr. (4-6, 14 GP/11 GS, 4.38 ERA, 72.0 IP, 36 K, 14 BB, .308 B/Avg.)
Sun. – LHP Michael Renner, Sr. (9-0, 13 GP/9 GS, 1.43 ERA, 75.1 IP, 46 K, 13 BB, .222 B/Avg.)