Knapp goes the distance as FGCU captures series opener vs. Florida
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- In front of a crowd of 3,643 at McKethan Stadium on Friday, Atlantic Sun Preseason Pitcher of the Year Ricky Knapp tossed a complete game against No. 5 Florida, leading Florida Gulf Coast to an 8-2 victory in the weekend series opener. It marked the first complete game against the Gators since 2011.
The victory moved the Eagles’ record to 3-1 on the year and marked the fifth win against a nationally ranked opponent in program history. The win was also the second versus the Gators in program history, with FGCU’s other victory in the series coming in the form of a 17-5 win in 2009, when the Gators were ranked No. 9 in the country. Florida, which dropped to 3-3 in the loss, has been nationally ranked in the previous five meetings with FGCU.
“This is a great win. Ricky Knapp went a complete game against Florida and Brooks Beisner [had] the big hit to put us up 3-1 on the home run," FGCU head coach Dave Tollett said. "It’s big anytime you win up here in Gainesville, and it’s really special when you can win up here on Friday night."
Earning his fifth career complete game, Knapp improved to 2-0 on the year after allowing just two runs on six hits while striking out four hitters in a 92-pitch performance. In his two starts this season, he has a 1.20 ERA with nine strikeouts and one walk, while holding opposing hitters to a .163 average in 15 innings of work.
The Gators were the first to put a run on the board in the home half of the second inning. After a single up the middle and a double down the line put runners on second and third with no outs, senior Vickash Ramjit sent a sacrifice fly to center field for the 1-0 lead.
Beisner gave the Green and Blue a 3-1 edge in the sixth inning on a deep three-run home run to left center field. After sophomore Alex Diaz led the inning with a hit-by-pitch, senior Mike Reeves earned a one-out walk to set up Beisner with runners on first and second. Down 0-1 in the count, he connected for a towering drive to left center that cleared the Rowdy Reptiles student section and gave the Eagles a two-run lead.
It marked the third multi-RBI round tripper in four games for Beisner, playing in his first season with the Eagles after sitting out the 2012 season due to transfer rules. For the season, the Eagles’ slugging first baseman has hit .533 with eight RBIs, five runs scored and 18 total bases.
Florida cut into the deficit in the bottom of the sixth, again off the bat of Ramjit. Back-to-back singles from sophomore Justin Shafer and sophomore Zack Powers put runners on second and third, as Powers moved to second on the throw to third base. With no outs in the frame, Ramjit sent his second sac fly into center field to narrow the Eagles lead to 3-2.
The Eagles earned back the run in the top of the eighth inning after freshman Tyler Selesky’s first career hit was followed by a single from Reeves to put runners on the corners with one out. In the next at-bat, an RBI line drive single up the middle from junior Sean Dwyer plated Selesky from third to move FGCU in front 4-2. Beisner then stepped to the plate to draw a full-count walk, before junior Brandon Bednar earned an RBI hit-by-pitch for the 5-2 advantage. With the bases still loaded in the eighth, sophomore Zack Tillery cleared the bags with a double down the left field line to push the Eagles ahead 8-2 on the scoreboard.
FGCU scored eight runs on nine hits while committing one defensive error. Beisner finished the game 1-for-2 with three RBIs and two runs scored, while Reeves hit 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Selesky had a 2-for-5 day at the plate and added a run scored, in addition to Dwyer’s 1-for-5 night, which included an RBI and a run scored.
Florida plated its pair of runs on six hits. Starting the game for the Gators, junior righty Jonathon Crawford (0-1) was hit with the loss after going 5.1 frames and allowing two runs on no hits, issuing a pair of walks and recording four strikeouts.