@FGCU_Baseball Completes Sweep at NKU with Historic Day at the Plate
WP | Sterling Koerner (3-1): 4.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO
LP | Wendell Wright (2-4): 4.0 IP, 9 H, 10 R, 9 ER, 4 BB, 1 SO
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – The FGCU baseball team (32-17, 15-6 Atlantic Sun) scored 22 runs on Sunday afternoon, a season-high and the most since becoming a Division-I program at Northern Kentucky (13-31, 6-15 A-Sun) to complete the sweep and remain unbeaten against the Norse.
FGCU collected 47 runs throughout the series at Northern Kentucky, by far the most of any series this season and second most in a series since becoming Division-I (49 at ETSU, May 2009). The Eagles have now outscored NKU 68-28 in six meetings since the Norse joined the A-Sun last season. Michael Suchy (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast HS) put together an enormous weekend, going 8-12 at the plate with three homeruns, eight RBI, nine runs scored and five walks. Jake Noll (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS)collected nine hits, four doubles, scored six times and drove in four runs including a 5-7, three double performance on Sunday. FGCU hit nine homeruns in the series after coming into the weekend with just 16 homeruns in the previous 46 games this season.
For the second-straight day, every Eagle in the starting lineup picked up at least one hit while seven had multiple and three had three or more. For the first time this season, each player in the starting lineup had an RBI led by Cody Hoffner (Sebring, Fla./Broward College) who collected a career-high seven in a 3-6 effort, which are also a season-high for any FGCU player. Nick Rivera (Cape Coral, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) went 3-4 with a homerun, drove in three and scored four times, tied for the most of any FGCU player this season. Suchy completed his dominant weekend at the plate going 2-4 on Sunday with a pair of doubles, two walks, three runs scored and two RBI.
“The bats really carried us this weekend,” head coach Dave Tollett added. “We weren’t as good as we have been on the mound and the bats stepped up and had a great weekend. No question picking up a sweep is huge for us. We just need to keep it up the rest of the way.”
Jack Enlish (Delray Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman HS) started on the mound for the Green and Blue, made it through 3.0 innings and gave up six runs, four earned, walked three, struck out two and would not factor in the decision. Sterling Koerner (Fort Pierce, Fla./John Carrol HS) relieved English and tossed 4.0 innings, gave up four runs, struck out three and earned his third win of the season. Andris Gonzalez (Miami, Fla./Indian River State College), Mario Leon (Naples, Fla./Gulf Coast HS) and Zack Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS) combined to clean up the last two innings to secure the 22-13 victory.
FGCU got rolling early on Sunday beginning with a single from Noll to lead off the game. Colton Bottomley (Parkland, Fla./Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS) wore a pitch to reach and with one away following a Suchy fly out, Rivera singled to drive in the first run of the ball game. Tillery reached on an error to load the bases, bringing up Hoffner who launched a grand slam to deep left-center to make it a five-run first, the first of three innings in this one that the Eagles would score five or more runs.
The lone scoreless inning of the ball game came in the second but Rivera homered to lead off the third to end the short scoring drought. NKU added its first pair of runs in the bottom of the third but FGCU made it 7-2 in the fourth after an Alex Diaz (Miami, Fla./John A. Ferguson) triple and Gage Morey (West Palm Beach, Fla./PB Central) walk led to a Noll RBI double.
Things started to get interesting in the bottom of the fourth when the Norse started to mount a comeback. English would surrender back-to-back doubles to lead off the frame and a fielding error would bring home a second run. English walked the next batter he faced which would turn out to be his last. Koerner took over and three more runs would come across in the fourth, tying the game 7-7 before the Eagles finally worked out of the jam.
FGCU responded in a big way in the top half of the fifth. Tillery led off with an infield single and moved up to second on a wild pitch. Hoffner and Berger worked back-to-back walks to load the bases for Diaz who reached on a fielder’s choice, causing Berger to be forced out at second but scored a run in the process. Morey followed with a bunt single and drove in a run before Noll ripped his second double of the afternoon to bring in another. Bottomley walked to load the bases again for Suchy who doubled to right, driving in two more runs and giving him a team-high 41 for the season. The Eagles would tack on a sixth run in the top of the fifth before NKU worked out of the inning, leaving FGCU with a 13-7 lead.
Leading 13-8 now in the top of the seventh, Suchy got hit by a pitch and Rivera doubled to drive in Suchy. Tillery followed with a double of his own to extend the lead to 15-8. FGCU would slam the door in the eighth highlighted by three-run line-drive homerun down the left-field line from Hoffner to cap off a five-run eighth. The Eagles added two more runs in the ninth and held off NKU the rest of the way.
The Eagles are now 6-0 against the Norse and have just six games remaining on the schedule against A-Sun opponents. FGCU is behind only Mercer (34-11, 16-5 A-Sun) in the league standings.
Mike Murray (West Palm Beach, Fla./Forrest Hill HS), worked through 6.0 innings and gave up nine hits to go with four earned runs while walking two and striking out six in an 8-5 victory, extending his league-lead in punch outs to 71 and bringing his A-Sun leading ERA to 1.51. Murray is one of just two pitchers in FGCU history to win double-digit games along with fellow wins-record holder Chris Sale. He is also one of just nine pitchers in the A-Sun in the last 10 years to win double-digit games in a season. Murray is on pace for at least two more starts before the conclusion of the regular season.
Following the weekend series the Green and Blue will head down to Coral Gables to face off against No. 4 Miami (32-13, 19-5 ACC) in a midweek matchup, Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m.
Full coverage of each game including live stats can be found at FGCUAthletics.com. If you can’t reach a computer, follow @FGCU_Baseball on Twitter or “like” FGCU Baseball on Facebook for daily news, photos and a constant stream of live updates during each game.
ATLANTIC SUN CHAMPIONSHIP
For the first time in program history, the FGCU baseball team will play host to the 2014 Atlantic Sun Baseball Championship set to take place May 21-25 at Swanson Stadium. The top eight teams in the standings at the end of the regular season will advance to the championship and compete in a double-elimination style tournament to determine the A-Sun’s automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament. The Eagles are three-time A-Sun Regular Season Champions and finished second in the league last season.
Tickets to the 2014 Atlantic Sun Championship are now available. General admission day passes are available for $10 and tournament passes can be purchased for $45. Reserved seating day passes are available for $15 and tournament reserved seating passes are available for $55. For more information and additional deals, visit FGCUathletics.com/tickets, or call the ticket office at 239-590-7145.