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FGCU travels to Gainesville for games against Illinois and Florida

This weekend the Florida Gulf Coast University Baseball team will prepare for a four-game stretch away from Swanson Stadium. The Eagles will stay in state, however, traveling to Gainesville for two games against the University of Florida, which will be split up with two games against the University of Illinois in between.

The University of Florida sits 5-3 and in fifth place in the eastern division of the Southeastern Conference.  The University of Illinois is 2-4 and sits in sixth place in the Big Ten Conference. FGCU has won all of its multiple game series this year.

The Eagles traveled to Daytona Beach this past weekend for a three-game series against Bethune-Cookman University. The Eagles were able to capture two out of three from Bethune-Cookman, dropping game two of the series Saturday night.

Game one for FGCU on Friday night began as a pitching duel and continued through most of the game. Mike Murray, turning in his second consecutive quality start, was on the mound for 7 2/3 solid innings, allowing six hits, three runs (none earned) and nine strikeouts. The Eagles managed to get three runs on the board in the sixth and held B-CU to no runs until the bottom of the eighth, when they were already up 5-0. Murray got his first win of the season in his longest outing of his FGCU career.

“Murray was great tonight,” coach Dave Tollett said, impressed with the performance put on by his sophomore pitcher. “The pitching has been outstanding so far, and that’s huge for a young club like this one. We need to clean some things up defensively, but this team has showed some encouraging signs early on.”

Kevin Young was able to raise his batting average this season to .409 with two hits and two runs batted in that night.

In game two the next night, FGCU wasn’t as strong coming out of the gate. This time, the Eagles were unable to score until late, being held scoreless until the seventh inning. Bethune-Cookman scored in the second and fifth innings, which ended up being enough to win, 3-2.

For FGCU, Nick Deckert took the ball and turned in 6 1/3 innings, giving up his first-earned run of the season before two more runs off an error came a few innings later in the fifth. Deckert gave up nine hits and struck out four on the night but couldn’t match that of B-CU’s John Sever, who threw for 6 1/3 innings, letting up only three hits, one earned run and striking out nine.

The Eagles only had two hits over the first six innings. Cody Hoffner for FGCU had three hits in his four times at bat and drove in one run. FGCU was able to score one in the top of the ninth inning when they were down 3-1 but weren’t able to capitalize and get another one, dropping the second game of the series.

The third game against Bethune-Cookman was the complete opposite of the first two games played. Both game one and two were pitching battles, while game three was all about offense. The Eagles were able to top B-CU in a battle, 13-10.

FGCU took a 7-1 lead into the bottom of the fourth inning, when Bethune-Cookman rallied for eight runs to put them in the lead. After two scoreless innings for the Eagles and one more run late for B-CU, FGCU’s bats picked up five runs in the final three innings. Mario Leon picked up the win as he was able to keep Bethune-Cookman scoreless and hitless through 2 1/3 innings pitched until the ninth.

For the Eagles, Jake Noll knocked in four runs batted with three hits in his four plate appearances and two walks. Mike Suchy had six at bats on the night and hit in three of them, driving in two runs.

“It was a good come-from-behind win for us today,” head coach Dave Tollett said after game three of the series. “We had one bad inning of baseball today, but our bats came alive for the first time this year. Our pitching has carried us this whole season, and it was good to see that when we struggled today our offense picked up our staff. A game like that is great to see and says a lot about a young club.”

FGCU will play against UF on Thursday, Illinois on Friday and then both teams again in a double-header Saturday in Gainesville.

 

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