Eagles start 4-0 after three walk-off wins
The FGCU baseball teams started off the 2018 baseball season with a sweep of Eastern Michigan with three of the four wins coming in walk-off fashion.
The three walk-off wins came from Alex Brait, Gage Morey and Spencer Levine. In the other game, FGCU’s pitching shut out Eastern Michigan in a blow-out win. This is the first time since 2008 that the Eagles have started off 4-0.
“It’s special,” head coach Dave Tollett said. “They’re starting to get our own identity. They hear so much about 2017. They’re trying to make their own path and right now they are doing it.”
In game one, Josh Dye pitched well and left with a 5-1 lead. Unfortunately, Eastern Michigan was able to tie the game, but FGCU had their first walk off hit from Brait. FGCU loaded the bases with nobody out and Brait walked it off with an RBI single to give the Eagles a 6-5 win.
“I was just trying to get a good swing on it and get a good pitch,” Brait said. I was just trying to get that runner in from third.”
Kenton Herring earned his first of two victories over the weekend after going 1.1 innings out of the bullpen to earn the win. Christian Profit made his debut and reached base five times. He walked four times and was hit by a pitch, as well as making a couple of super plays at shortstop.
The bats exploded in game two of the double header for a 12-4 win. FGCU scored four first inning runs and that would be more than enough for Mario Leon, who went five innings and picked up the win.
Leon allowed one run and three hits, striking out six. The Eagles had four extra base hits including a double and triple from Brait. Eli Lovell and Levine also doubled. Jay Hayes and Profit were the lone FGCU starters to not have an RBI in the starting lineup, but Profit did have his first collegiate win. Brian Wilcox came to his debut in relief and pitched three innings, allowing just one run.
“I thought I threw okay,” Leon said. “If I had to work on something, it would be minimizing pitch and not aim so high. My team is going to need me to go deeper into ballgames, but I thought I did a good job of minimizing some of the mistakes I made early on.”
In game three, FGCU trailed by as many as four runs, but once again was able to walk it off, this time from Morey. The Eagles trailed 10-9 heading into the ninth, and Jake Smith reached first base after getting hit by a pitch.
Off the bench, pinch hitter Spencer Levine singled. Coffers eventually would tie the game with a single and pinch runner Eric Gonzalez score the winning run on Morey’s hit.
“Marc told me before the inning it is 7,8,9 then let’s do it,” Morey said. “I said all right, let’s do it. Either you’re going to do it or I’m going to do it, so it is going to be one of us.”
Peyton Grey made the start and only went three innings, but Justin Gill gave FGCU a much-needed 3.1 out of the bullpen before Herring came in for the win.
In the final game of the series, it was a lot like Saturday’s game, as the Eagles got less than three innings from their starter, but were able to win on a walk-off hit from Levine scoring pinch runner Tyler Yeager.
“I went up there knowing I was going top sac bunt,” Levine said. “He throws away the first one, and I’m like all right, I’m still going to sac-bunt. Just trying to get my job done. Then the wild pitch comes and I’m thinking he’s been wild, so I am probably going to walk, but then [Brandon] Romand gives me the swing sign.
In his debut with FGCU, Evan Lumbert went six innings out of the bullpen to earn the win. They had the lead at 7-6 after Kohl Gilmore went deep to center, but Eastern Michigan was able to tie it up in the ninth.
The Eagles will look to improve to 5-0 for the second time in program history and the first time in Division I history on Friday, Feb. 23 vs. ETSU for the start of another series at home.