Baseball drops first home series of the season
After starting the season with five consecutive games on the road, the FGCU baseball team welcomed Illinois for a three-game series at Swanson Stadium Feb. 26 through 28.
The Fighting Illinios got the best of the Eagles at home, winning the first two games of the series by a score of 4-2 in both games. However, FGCU was able to avoid the sweep with a 3-2 victory over Illinois on Sunday.
In the long awaited home opener for the FGCU baseball team, Sterling Koerner took the mound for the Eagles, as they searched for their second win of the season against the Fighting Illini.
After a scoreless first inning, Illinois was able to get on the board in the top of the second when Jack Yalowitz singled up the middle to bring in Doran Turchin from second in to score, giving the Fighting Illini a 1-0 lead.
Despite going three up three down in the bottom of the first, the Eagles were able to answer back with a run of their own. After Nick Rivera started the inning with a pop out to short, Colton Bottomley doubled to right center. With Bottomley on second, Corey Fehribach brought him home with a single right up the middle to tie the game at one a piece.
At the end of the third inning, both teams remained tied at one a piece. In the top of the fourth, Illinois found a way to get back on top. Pat McInerney started off the inning for the Fighting Illini with a single through the left side. After advancing to second on a groundout to first, McInerney came in to score after Turchin singled to right.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Eagles once again came back with an answer to Illinois’ run with another one of their own. Jake Noll started the inning for FGCU with a triple down the right field line. The Eagles then tied the game up once again after Rivera’s single to right field brought in Noll to score to tie the game 2-2.
After a back and forth affair in the second and fourth inning, the Fighting Illini got the final lead to push them past the Eagles in the top of the sixth.
Jason Goldstein led the inning for Illinois with a double to left field. McInerney’s single to right field put Goldstein in scoring position on third. After a ground out to Koerner, McInerney advanced to third. Turchin then ground out to second, advancing McInerney to third and bringing in Goldstein to score. After a wild pitch by Koerner, McInerney came in to score and give Illinois a 4-2.
The Eagles weren’t able to respond in the last three innings of the contest, losing the first game to the Fighting Illini 4-2.
Cody Sedlock got the win for Illinois with four strikeouts and two earned runs in seven innings. J.D. Nielsen got the save, allowing only one hit and striking out three in two innings.
In game 2 against Illinois, Brady Anderson took the mound for FGCU, as it looked to even the series at one a piece.
In the top of the first, the Fighting Illini took no time to get on the board. Adam Walton started the inning by reaching first on an error by Anderson. After Walton stole second, Goldstein’s single up the middle brought Walton in to score and gave Illinois a 1-0 lead.
Three scoreless innings later, the Eagles got on the board and tied up the game. Noll began the inning for FGCU with a single to left field. After stealing second, Noll reached third on an error by Illinois’ catcher. After Rivera struck out, Bottomley’s single up the middle brought Noll in to score and tied the game at one at the end of the fourth.
After allowing a run in the fourth, the Fighting Illini quickly responded. After Walton grounded out to first, Michael Hurwitz singled through the right side. Goldstein reached first on an error and moved Hurwitz to second. After a popup by McInerney, Drago singled to right and brought Hurwitz in to score and give Illinois a 2-1 lead.
After grabbing the lead in the fourth, Matthew James extended the Fighting Illini’s lead to 3-1 in the top of the fifth, with a homer to right center.
Three innings later, Illinois added to its 3-1 lead thanks to a couple of singles. Turchin led off the inning with a single to right field and then stole second. Yalowitz singled up the middle and bring Turchin around to score and pushed the Fighting Illini lead to 4-1.
After a tough night at the plate all around for FGCU, the Eagles were able to get a run in the bottom of the ninth. Bottomley doubled down the left field line and then advanced to third on a balk. Fehribach flew out to center, allowing Bottomley to score.
The Illinois’ pitching staff had a solid outing, allowing only two runs, six hits and striking out eight FGCU batters.
Picking up the win on the mound for the Fighting Illini was Doug Hayes.
In the final game of the series, the Eagles looked to win their first home game of the season after dropping the first two at home to Illinois. Mario Leon got the start on the mound for FGCU as it tried to avoid the series sweep.
Illinois started the game with a run in the first in its effort for the sweep. Walton walked to begin the inning and stole second and advanced to third on an error by Kyle Gilbert.
After two scoreless innings at the plate, FGCU got on the board in the bottom of the third inning. Gilbert began the inning for the Eagles with a single through the right side. Noll singled to right field, reaching first and advancing Gilbert to second. Tyler Seleskey reached first on an error by the third baseman, and Gilbert came around to score, tying the game 1-1.
The scoring was rekindled in the sixth inning, where the Fighting Illini regained the lead. Leon walked the first two batters in the inning, and Goldstein advanced both runners to second and third. Ryan Lang came in to replace Leon after five innings pitched and one earned. After the pitching change, McInerney ground out to short, and Walton scored, giving Illinois a 2-1 lead.
After going down once again, the Eagles responded with a strong inning at the plate. Bottomley led the inning with a single up the middle and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Rivera singled to left, putting Bottomley in scoring position at third. Tyler Atwell brought Bottomley home with a single up the middle and advanced Rivera to second, tying the game 2-2. After two batters struck out for FGCU, Nick Blassucci gave the Eagles their first lead of the three game series with a double down the infield line, bringing in Rivera to score and put FGCU up 3-2.
After gaining the lead in the sixth, Ryan Lang shutout the Fighting Illini, propelling the Eagles to their first home win of the season.
FGCU will now travel to Coral Gables to face No. 4 Miami at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 2 before traveling to Daytona Beach to face Bethune-Cookman in a three-game series.