Murray Makes History with Record-Setting 12th Win in 14-0 Shutout of ETSU
Mike Murray cruised through six shutout innings on Friday night, throwing just 67 pitches to guide the FGCU baseball team (33-18, 16-6 Atlantic Sun) to a 14-0 defeat of defending A-Sun Champion ETSU (24-24, 11-10 A-Sun) and earned his FGCU single-season record setting 12th win, surpassing 2010 National Player of the Year Chris Sale.
Murray (West Palm Beach, Fla./Forrest Hill HS), who just last night was named to the 30-man watch list for the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award, the award that chooses a national player of the year in college baseball, became the first pitcher in the nation this season to reach the 12-win plateau, lowering his A-Sun best ERA to 1.41 and picking up two strikeouts to extend his league-leading total to 73. After the game, Murray received a water cooler shower from his teammates to celebrate the historic accomplishment.
“It’s a great win for Mike Murray,” head coach Dave Tollett said of his ace. “Everybody knows what Chris Sale meant to this program. Chris Sale was National Pitcher of the Year and for Mike to exceed what Chris did, I think it speaks very loudly of just how good of a pitcher Mike Murray is.”
Friday’s effort marks the seventh start of 13 this season in which Murray did not allow an earned run to cross the plate and it’s the fourth time that the sophomore did not allow a run of any kind before exiting the game. Murray is one of just nine pitchers in the A-Sun in the last 10 years to win double-digit games in a season and is on pace for at least one more start before the conclusion of the regular season.
The sophomore has also been named to the College Baseball Hall of Fame Pitcher of the Year watch list and is an NCBWA All-American nominee in recognition of the stellar season he is putting together. His name is mentioned alongside players from all of the power conferences including in-state rivals and perennial college baseball powers, Florida State, Miami and Florida. He is the only player on the College Baseball Hall of Fame watch list that comes from the A-Sun.
Earlier this season Murray became just the second pitcher in FGCU history to throw back-to-back complete games. Ricky Knapp did so in March of 2012 when he went the distance against North Florida and East Tennessee State in consecutive outings. During his streak of 43.1 innings without allowing an earned run that was snapped at Stetson, Murray’s ERA dropped as low as 0.18 at one point.
Not to be lost in all of Murray’s accolades was the production from the offense on Friday night. Jake Noll (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte HS) went 3-5 at the plate, scored twice, drove in a run and came a couple close calls shy of 5-5. The freshman is now tied for second in the nation with 86 hits and is only three behind the national leader. He has raised his average to .369 for the season and is hitting an astonishing .432 against A-Sun opponents.
Nick Rivera (Cape Coral, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) went 3-5 with a homerun and four RBI while Michael Suchy (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast HS) and Cody Hoffner (Sebring, Fla./Broward College) added three hits of their own, combining to drive in two more runs. Nine different FGCU players drove in a run on Friday night and matched a season-high with 21 hits. The Eagles have now outscored A-Sun opponents 61-23 over their last four games.
FGCU got the ball rolling early in this one, giving Murray all the support he would need right out of the gates. Noll led off the first with a single and with one out, Suchy singled to center to put runners on first and second for Rivera who smacked a long shot over the left-center field wall to make it 3-0 early.
The Eagles added one run in the second, added another in the third on a Zack Tillery (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS) solo homerun to left and after being held scoreless in the fourth, blew this one wide open in the fifth.
Rivera led off with a single and Tillery flied out to bring up Hoffner who doubled down the left field line putting two runners in scoring position for Blake Berger (Jacksonville, Fla./Santa Fe College) who doubled to bring in the first two runs of the frame. After a pitching change, Gage Morey (West Palm Beach, Fla./PB Centra) singled, bringing up Noll who singled as well to bring in Berger.Adam Eggnatz (Tampa, Fla./Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate HS), who pinch ran for Colton Bottomley (Parkland, Fla./Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS) in the second, followed with a single of his own to drive in a run. The Eagles would add six runs on eight hits in the fifth to take a commanding 11-0 lead.
The Green and Blue tacked on three more runs the rest of the way and used three relievers to button up the last three innings to secure the win for Murray. With a Mercer win at home against Stetson, FGCU remains in second place in the A-Sun standings. The Eagles will return to Swanson Stadium tomorrow at 2 p.m. and Brady Anderson (Arcadia, Fla./DeSoto HS) will take the mound against Jimmy Nesselt.
Full coverage of each game including live stats and video 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.