FGCU trips up No. 6 Miami (Fla.)
Eagles defeat second top-ten team in last two weeks
CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Behind a two-hit gem through seven innings from freshman right-hander Zack Tillery in his first collegiate start, FGCU sent shockwaves through the college baseball world for the second consecutive week with a 4-2 win at No. 6 Miami on Wednesday night at Alex Rodriguez Park.
The win is the Green and Blue’s first against Miami and its second against a top 10 team in the last seven days. Last Wednesday, the Eagles picked up the program’s second win against a nationally-ranked opponent in Tallahassee, Fla., with a 5-1 triumph at then-No. 2 Florida State.
“I’m really proud of our kids for putting together a complete game for the second straight night against a nationally-ranked team,” said head coach Dave Tollett. “The two wins this week and last week’s win over FSU are three huge victories for our program and our young club. I hope we are starting to turn the corner at the right time as we get into a crucial stretch of games.”
FGCU is now 14-20 on the season, having played seven games against ranked opponents. Last night, the Eagles defeated No. 28 FAU at Swanson Stadium on a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth.
The loss drops the Canes to 24-9 on the season and snaps their eight-game win streak against FGCU. Miami was coming off a three-game ACC sweep of No. 3 North Carolina at Alex Rodriguez Park where they are now 18-6 on the year.
Talking the mound for the first time as a starter after 7.1 innings of relief work through the first 33 games, Tillery gave up his lone run and hits (2) over his seven innings in the top of the first. The Naples, Fla. product then buckled down, tossing six consecutive shutout innings that saw him retire 18 of 19 batters he faced over that span.
Just like it did at Florida State, FGCU jumped out to an early lead with two runs in the top of the first. Freshman Michael Suchy opened the action with a one-out single and advanced to second when sophomore Brandon Bednar reached on an error by the shortstop. Coming off a 2-for-4 performance against FAU, sophomore Sean Dwyer delivered his second double in as many nights, roping a 3-1 pitch into right center field to score both Suchy and Bednar for the 2-0 lead.
The Hurricanes bounced back with a run on two hits in the bottom half of the first and were able to keep it a 2-1 game until the top of the seventh behind a solid start from right-hander Javi Salas. Like Tillery, Salas sat down 11 straight batters at one point until redshirt freshmen and Miami native Alex Diaz drilled a double down the right field line to start the fifth.
Still leading 2-1, FGCU supplied Tillery with an insurance run in the top of the seventh when senior Ryan Gebhart singled to bring home Diaz from second with two outs. Diaz struck out earlier in the inning, but was able to reach on the strike-3 wild pitch. A single by junior Tito Mendoza put Diaz in scoring position before he scored on Gebhart’s 34th hit of the year to make it 3-1.
After throwing 25 pitches in the first inning, Tillery was economical over his next six frames, finishing with 88 pitches en route to a final line of one earned run allowed, two hits, no walks and one strikeout in the win. Junior Andrew Polly took over for Tillery in the eighth and sat down the Hurricanes in order for the sixth time in the game.
Diaz crossed the plate for the second time in the game in the top of the ninth, pushing FGCU’s lead to 4-1. After reaching on another error by Miami’s shortstop, Diaz eventually came around to score on a clutch pinch-hit RBI single by redshirt freshman Kirby Retzer.
The three-run lead was turned over to freshman right-hander Brady Anderson, who played the first eight innings in left field. A two-out RBI single by Bethune-Cookman transfer Peter O’Brien brought the Canes within 4-2, but Anderson closed the door on the Eagles’ second win over a top 10 team in the last week with his second career save.
FGCU’s trio of pitchers limited Miami to a season-low four hits, while the Eagles’ four runs came on seven base-knocks.