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Nine-Run Fifth Inning Pushes Softball Past Mercer to Take Series
|Florida Gulf Coast||0||0||2||0||9||0||4||15||15||1|
|Win: JOSIE (7-2)||7.0||10||7||6||2||0|
|Loss: RICE (12-10)||4.2||8||9||9||5||1|
MACON, Ga. – After splitting a pair of high-scoring affairs in the series opening doubleheader on Saturday, April 6, the FGCU softball team came out swinging and used a nine-run scoring barrage in the fifth inning to beat Mercer 15-7 and clinch the series on Sunday afternoon at Sikes Field.
FGCU has now won two straight games to improve to 26-13 overall with the Eagles currently 7-4 in A-Sun contests. The eight-run defeat drops Mercer below .500 as the Bears are now 22-23 on the year with a 10-8 mark in A-Sun play.
“Our team did a great job showing character and heart all weekend long,” said head coach David Deiros. “We are going to work to carry that momentum through the rest of the week.”
Mercer brought across the first run of the contest in the home half of the first after the leadoff batter reached base on an error and came around to score on a sacrifice fly, putting the Bears up 1-0.
In the top half of the third, junior Jessica Barnes (Winter Haven, Fla./Haines City HS) struck a single through the right side to lead off the inning. Tori Williams (Dunnellon, Fla./Dunnellon HS) followed Barnes with a triple to right field that was enough to bring Barnes home and tie the game at one. With a speedy Williams just 60 feet away from putting FGCU in the lead, Emily Lanier (St. Cloud, Fla./Harmony HS) reached safely on a fielder’s choice while also bringing across Williams to give the Green and Blue a 2-1 advantage.
After allowing a run to score in the first inning, starting pitcher Amanda Josie (Estero, Fla./Estero HS) and the Eagle defense settled down to record eight straight outs to keep the Bears off the base paths heading into the fourth inning.
With a runner on third courtesy of a walk and two ground outs to move the Bear runner over to third base, Mercer capitalized with a single through the infield to bring across a game-tying score in the fourth.
Looking to break open the 2-2 tie game in the top of the fifth, FGCU did just that with a plethora of offensive firepower. The scoring began with a base hit from sophomore outfielder Kelsey Carpenter (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) to break the tie with Mercer. Singles from Kirsten Bembnowski (Palm Harbor, Fla./East Lake HS) and Brittney Garabedian (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep HS), along with a pair of wild pitches gave the Eagles a 7-2 edge on the road.
Jessica Barnes continued her hot streak by driving a ball deep to left field for a three-run home run that kept the scoring barrage going for the Green and Blue. Emily Lanier recorded another RBI, this time in the fifth with a base knock that capped a nine-run inning for FGCU, putting them up 11-2 heading into the home half of the fifth.
On its home field, Mercer would cut into the deficit and extend the game to avoid the contest ending early as a result of mercy rule. The Bears would bring three runs across in the fifth and sixth innings combined to draw within six runs.
As the scoreboard at Sikes Field read 11-5 in favor of FGCU through the first six innings, the Eagle bats would not let up despite the multiple-run advantage. With one out and runners on first and second, Chelsea Zgrabik (Venice, Fla./Venice HS) sent a pitch out of the park for a three-run home run to provide additional run support. Kirsten Bembnowski then stepped to the dish and connected on a sacrifice fly out which accounted for run number 15 and gave the Eagles a 15-5 lead, just three outs away from the victory.
Mercer was able to bring across two runs in the bottom of the seventh, but as FGCU entered the half inning with a double-digit lead, the deficit was too much for the Bears to overcome so late in the game. Amanda Josie went the distance for the Green and Blue as the Estero native went seven innings to collect the 15-7 win for FGCU.
With the three-game weekend series between the Eagles and Bears in the rear-view mirror, FGCU now leads the all-time series 7-4 as the two programs have now met a total of 11 times.
The Green and Blue will remain in the state of Georgia to take on Kennesaw State in the three-game midweek matchup. The two teams will square off beginning on Tuesday, April 9 in a doubleheader that will get underway at 3 p.m.
In-game Twitter updates (@FGCU_Softball), results and a recap from the day’s action will be available at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com.