Florida Gulf Coast sweeps No. 17 Florida with 11 inning thriller in Gainesville
GAINESVILLE, Fla. –- Having not been swept in a three-game home series in Gainesville, Fla. since the 2009 season, Florida Gulf Coast accomplished the feat with a thrilling 11-inning victory against No. 17 Florida on a rainy Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium.
Winners of four in a row, the Eagles’ record climbs to 5-1 on the young season. The victory also clinched the first three-game sweep of the Gators on their home turf since Miami (Fla.) did so during the 2009 campaign. After dropping the Friday (8-2) and Saturday (8-3) contests with the Eagles, UF saw its record drop to 3-5 in the loss, their fourth in a row at home this season.
After stranding two runners in the first inning, the Eagles took the lead in the top of the second. Sophomore Zack Tillery opened the frame with a single up the middle and came around to score on junior Andrew Valencia’s double to the left field wall in the next at-bat. The Eagles found runner’s on the corners with no outs in the inning when freshman Colton Bottomley sent a hard grounder to a diving third baseman, and Valencia moved across for the 2-0 lead on a sacrifice bunt down the first base line from redshirt sophomore Alex Diaz.
Florida made it a 2-1 game in the home side of the fifth when senior Cody Dent advanced to second off a throwing error on double play opportunity for the Eagles. Dent later moved to third on a groundout to Diaz at shortstop and came across to score on a single up the middle by freshman Ritchie Martin.
UF plated the tying and go-ahead runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Back-to-back singles and a sacrifice bunt to third placed runners on second and third with one away, prior to sophomore Taylor Gushue leveling the game at 2-2 with a single into centerfield. Two more singles in the inning helped the Gators to take a 4-2 edge heading to the seventh.
However, the lead was short-lived as the Green and Blue tied the game at 4-4 on a two-run opposite-field blast from senior Brooks Biesner in the seventh. Junior Sean Dwyer reached base with a two-out single through the left side, setting up Beisner for his second long ball of the series and fourth of the season, all of which have been of the multi-RBI variety. The home run proved to be the final strike in regulation as the game headed to extra innings even at 4-4.
Finding himself in a tough spot with the bases loaded and nobody out in the bottom of the 10th, junior righty Harrison Cooney induced a fly out to centerfield, a fielder’s choice play at the plate and another fly ball to center to work out of the jam and give the Eagles new life in the 11th.
FGCU made good of the opportunity in its next chance at the plate, following a one-out single from Bednar and hard-fought walk to freshman Tyler Selesky, who entered the game as a pinch hitter. With the score still knotted at 4-4, Dwyer stepped in the box and deposited a three-run bomb over the scoreboard in right field to give the Eagles a 7-4 advantage before heading to the home side of the frame.
Marking his fifth inning of relief work, Cooney (1-1) returned to the mound in the 11th and faced four batters to gain the final three outs of the contest. Earning his first victory of the season, the Vero Beach, Fla. product allowed no runs on a pair of hits, walking three batters and registering five punchouts.
In his first career start, freshman right-hander Michael Murray (1-0) went 5.1 innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on eight hits with one walk and one strikeout in a no-decision. The first arm out of the pen, redshirt freshman Gabe Rivera also tossed 0.2 innings, allowing just one hit.
Establishing a new season high 16 hits in the game, the Green and Blue were able to bring seven runs across behind Dwyer’s 4-for-6 day that included two runs scored and three RBI. Extending his hit streak to six games, Beisner recorded a 3-for-6 game with a run scored and two RBI. Reeves (1-for-5) also extended his hitting streak to six games in the contest.
Through the three-game series, Beisner led the offensive attack, hitting .500 (6-for-12) and a 1.167 slugging percentage with a pair of doubles and home runs, adding six RBI and three runs scored. Dwyer hit .400 (6-for-15) with a triple, a home run, five RBI and four runs scored. Additionally, Suchy (.385), Reeves (.357) and Selesky (.300) each hit at or above the .300 mark.
FGCU pitching maintained a 2.48 ERA and a .235 opponent average through the contests, totaling 15 strikeouts and eight walks.
UF scored four runs on 11 hits, with Martin leading the way in a 3-for-6 day. Florida freshman righty starter Eric Hanhold went the first three innings, allowing two runs on six hits, one walk and three strikeouts. Justin Shafer (0-1) was issued the loss after tossing the final 2.2 innings and surrendering three runs on two hits, one walk and three strikeouts.
The Eagles now prepare for a mid-week contest at FAU on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in Boca Raton, Fla. Following the contest with the Owls, the Green and Blue will begin an 11-game home stand at Swanson Stadium, beginning with Manhattan on March 1.