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Eagles fall to FAU and prepare for Kennesaw State

Eagles fall to FAU and prepare for Kennesaw State

Florida Gulf Coast University lost to Florida Atlantic 10-5 on Tuesday night at Swanson Stadium to make their record 19-18-1 on the season. FAU became the fourth ranked team FGCU faced this season.

“Any given night, anything can happen,” Nick Rivera said.

Both teams started lefties on Tuesday night. Neither pitcher was around for the finish of this one.

Devin Smeltzer started and picked up the loss for the Eagles. He allowed six runs on seven hits and six runs in four and a third innings.

“It was the first time he pitched in humidity like this,” FGCU coach Dave Tollett said.

Sean Labsan started for the Owls. He did not allow a hit in his two innings of work. Blake Sanderson would get the win for FAU.

FGCU was outhit 15-5 on Tuesday.

“We were really bad offensively,” Tollett said.

The Eagles also were very shaky in the field with four errors.

It did not start good for the Eagles defense. Brian Pruett started the game with an error for FGCU.

FAU was able to get to Smeltzer in the second inning. Esteban Puerta got a one-out single. Christian Dicks followed with a two-run home run to give the Owls a 2-0 lead.

The third inning started with a surprise from the Owls. Robbie Coursel replaced Labsan for FAU. It did not go well for Coursel. An error from Stephen Kerr and walks to Tyler Selesky and Nick Rivera loaded the bases with one out.

Jake Noll walked to bring home Matt Reardon and cut the gap to 2-1 Owls. Blake Sanderson replaced Coursel. Sanderson immediately hurled a wild pitch to score Selesky to score and knot the game 2-2. Colton Bottomley followed with FGCU’s first hit up the middle to knock home two runs and give the Eagles a 4-2 advantage.

CJ Chatham started the FAU attack in the fifth inning with a single. He advanced on a wild pitch from Smeltzer. Kerr got a single to put runners at first and third. Kerr soon stole second to put two runners in scoring position. Brett Lashley walked to load the bases full of Owls. Brendon Sanger got a single to tie the game 4-4. Adam Eggnatz relieved Smeltzer.

The inning was far from over for the Eagles. Eggnatz gave up a single to Ricky Santiago to load the bases for the second time in the inning. Roman Collins gave the Owls a 5-4 lead with another hit. Eggnatz walked Puerta to increase the Owls lead to 6-4. Josh Dye would be the new Eagles pitcher.

Bo Logan came on to pitch for FAU in the fifth inning.

Neither team was able to score again until the eighth inning. Dicks was able to get to third base following a three-base error from Selesky. Chatham followed with a single off Dye and went to second on another error from Selesky to make it 7-4 Owls. Stephen Abraham made it 8-4 Owls with a hit. Garrison Vandeventer came on to pitch for the Eagles.

John Sebelle came on for FAU in the eighth inning.

Collins walked to start the Owls attack in the ninth inning. Danny Murray delivered a pinch-hit single to put runners on first and second. An error from Jake Noll gave the Owls a 9-4 lead. Chatham then got a RBI double to make it 10-4 Owls.

Reily Monkman came on to pitch the ninth inning. He allowed the first two runners to get on base. Reardon made hit 10-5 Owls with an RBI single. Selesky followed Reardon with another single to make it 10-6 FAU. Devon Carr replaced Monkman to finish off the win.

The game also marked the end for Noll’s 16-game hitting streak as he went 0-4.

Florida Gulf Coast University will travel Kennesaw State for a three-game series starting Apr. 17. This will be a good test for FGCU against a strong opponent.

The Eagles are coming off a 3-2 week to give them a 19-17-1 record. One of those wins came at nationally-ranked Florida State. The Eagles have enjoyed success in the Atlantic Sun with a 6-3 mark after nine conference games. This record is tied for first with North Florida and Stetson.

The Owls have also had a mixed season. They have a 19-16 record with a 5-4 mark in A-Sun play.

Coaches often can be a huge factor throughout a game or season. This series will feature two of the best and longest-tenured coaches in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

Mike Sansing is the coach of the Owls. He is in his 24th season in charge of Kennesaw State. Sansing also picked up his 1,000 win coaching college baseball earlier this year.

Dave Tollett remains the only baseball coach at FGCU. Tollett has compiled a 453-255-3 record in 13 years in charge of FGCU.

The Owls and Eagles are very familiar facing each other. Both teams have met 22 times with FGCU enjoying a 15-7 advantage over Kennesaw State.

The Owls are led by Kal Simmons. He is second in the A-Sun with nine home runs. He also has 30 RBI while scoring 32 runs.

The Eagles have a big power bat in Nick Rivera. He ranks second in the conference with a .389 batting average. He also has seven home runs and 43 RBI. Rivera also won his second Atlantic Sun Player of the Week after going 7-13 at the plate. Rivera hit a double to give the Eagles an 8-7 win to clinch the series over Jacksonville in extra innings.    

FGCU also possesses Jake Noll. Noll is hitting .358 while leading the team with 53 hits and scoring 28 runs. His 13 stolen bases rank him third in the conference.

Pitching is important to getting wins. Both teams will be sending some stellar pitching to the mound this weekend.

Kennesaw State will send Travis Bergen and Jordan Hillyer on the mound to face the Eagles.

Hillyer is 3-3 with a 2.73 ERA in 56 innings. He has struck out 62 batters while allowing 50 hits. His ERA is fifth best in the A-Sun.

Bergen is also enjoying a fabulous year. He has a 4-3 record with a 2.59 ERA in 62.2 innings. His ERA is fourth in the A-Sun. Bergen also collected his second A-Sun Pitcher of the Week as the southpaw threw a complete game gem against Northern Kentucky last weekend.

They will be facing Michael Murray and Brady Anderson. Both pitchers have been critical in keeping FGCU competitive in 2015.

Murray is 3-4 with a 3.94 ERA in 59.1 innings. His 64 strikeouts are second in the A-Sun. 11 of those strikeouts came in his last start against Jacksonville.

Anderson is 4-0 with a 3.67 ERA in 56.1 innings. His 43 strikeouts are fifth in the A-Sun for 2015. Anderson only trails Brooks Wilson from Stetson for wins in the A-Sun this year. Anderson picked up his fourth win against JU in his last start for FGCU.

The Eagles will take a break from A-Sun action and will welcome Massachusetts to Swanson Stadium for three games starting April 25.

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