The Eagles will be in Swanson Stadium this weekend to take on streaking Florida A&M University. FAMU comes off their three straight wins and their first series sweep of the season.
FGCU comes off its own series sweep, beating Manhattan University in four games this past weekend to end a four-game losing streak. The Eagles were led by strong pitching performances out of their starters in each of the games.
In the first game of the series, FGCU’s defense led them to a 3-1 victory. Atlantic Sun Pitcher of the Week Mike Murray took the mound for a career-high eight innings. Murray only allowed four hits on the night, two of which came in the ninth inning, prompting coach Dave Tollett to pull him. He allowed no earned runs in his appearance, but one run did score while he was on the mound. His nine strikeouts were a season high and the sophomore only walked one batter in one of his best career performances. Murray improved his record to 3-0 with the win.
FGCU took the lead quickly, scoring a run in the first inning after second baseman Jake Noll’s leadoff single and stolen base in the bottom of the first led to the Eagles’ first run of the game. Noll finished the night with two hits in three at-bats, two runs and a walk.
Games two and three, both played in a doubleheader on Saturday, were no different for the Eagles’ pitching staff. The first of the two games showed plenty of offense for FGCU to back up a tough outing on the mound by Nick Deckert (2-2).
Deckert threw for seven innings, allowing six hits and one run, but none earned. In his FGCU career-best performance, he struck out 10 hitters and walked just two en route to his second victory of the season.
Offense played a major role in the win for the Eagles as they scored 13 runs on 13 hits to tie their season high this year. Each batter in the lineup registered a hit. Alex Diaz led the team with three hits in four at bats and driving in two runs as well as scoring once himself.
The second game was a closer battle for the Eagles on their way to a 3-2 victory and clinching the series win. Pitching yet again proved to be just what FGCU needed to pick up the victory.
Zack Tillery (1-1) took the mound for seven innings as he only allowed one hit all night and one earned run. The only hit coming in the seventh as a home run over the right field wall. Tillery’s eight strikeouts were a career-high for him and he managed to keep his walks down to just two.
The Eagles got the win though Manhattan made a late push in the ninth, scoring their second run before being put away for their third straight loss in the series.
“Those two really threw quality games today,” Tollett said. “Deckert worked his way out of trouble again and again and Tillery just got in a rhythm and pitched real well. Our offense really came alive in the first one and our defense stepped up at the end of the second one. It was a complete day for us and we’re happy to come away with two wins.”
The fourth and final game of the series against Manhattan took place Sunday. The Eagles came back from a two-run deficit to complete the sweep and get the win, 5-2.The victory was FGCU’s 10th on the year.
Starter Brad Labozzetta struggled again this season as he made his fourth start of the year. Labozzetta was pulled after just two innings after allowing two runs on two hits and walking three. Freshman Sterling Koerner took the mound in relief. He pitched for six innings, allowing no earned runs on two hits with four strikeouts on his way to his second victory of the year.
The Manhattan Jaspers were able to score early off the poor performance by Labozzetta, but the Eagles were able to regain the lead in the sixth behind their strong bats. Tillery had a great day at the plate, going two for three with an RBI, scored run and a walk.
“Sterling was huge for us again,” Tollett said. “He gave us a lift and our offense responded. It’s big for a young club to get its first sweep, and now we just need to carry the momentum into next weekend and hopefully through the rest of the season.”
The Eagles prepare for FAMU this weekend in Swanson Stadium before beginning a 10-game away stretch.