SEVEN-RUN FOURTH PUSHES FGCU PAST BRYANT, 8-1
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Freshman Kevin McAvoy (Syracuse, N.Y.) struck out six over 4.1 innings of relief but a seven-run fourth inning was more than enough for Florida Gulf Coast, as the Eagles defeated the Bryant University baseball team, 8-1, on Saturday afternoon at Hammond Stadium.
With their second-straight victory over the Bulldogs (2-3), the Eagles (3-3) have evened their record after six games, while the Black and Gold have dropped three-straight after opening the season with a pair of victories.
On Saturday, FGCU did all its damage in one inning, sending 12 batters to the plate and scoring seven runs on four hits. After an infield error allowed the leadoff batter to reach, a pair of walks sandwiched around a fielder's choice loaded the bases with one out. Dane Wisneski, Andrew Valencia and Michael Suchy followed with three consecutive RBI singles to put the Eagles on top, 3-1. Bryant starter Joseph Michaud (Milford, Conn.) tried to limit the damage by striking out the next batter, but he issued back-to-back bases-loaded walks to force in two runs and Sean Dwyer capped the explosive inning with a two-run single.
The Dwyer single signaled the end of the afternoon for Michaud as McAvoy was summoned for his second appearance of the season. Roughed up in his first collegiate outing last weekend, McAvoy was dominant against the Eagles. He struck Zack Tillery to end the fourth and allowed just four baserunners the rest of the afternoon. McAvoy registered 1-2-3 innings in the fifth and sixth, striking out the side in the sixth. FGCU finally got to him in the seventh, loading the bases with a pair of hits and an infield error. An RBI ground out plated the Eagles' final run before McAvoy retired the side on a strikeout and a pop out. He finished his night by working around a two-out double in the eighth.
For the third time this season, the Bulldogs got on the board first, scoring a single run in the third inning. Daniel St. George (Shelton, Conn.) and Connor Carignan (Norwich, Conn.) connected on back-to-back singles to start the frame and David Soltis (Plainville, Conn.) walked to load the bases with one out. Mike DelPonte (Tewksbury, Mass.) plated the Bulldogs' only run with a sac fly to center.
The Black and Gold managed just one hit after the third inning – a fifth-inning Kevin Brown (Northborough, Mass.) single – as the Eagles' pitching staff shut the door. Left-handed starter Andrew Polly lasted five innings, allowing just one run on four hits while striking out five. After Polly left, FGCU rolled out four different relievers over the final four innings to close the door. Gabe Rivera, Kevin Bryant, Harrison Cooney and Tillery allowed just one hit and three baserunners over the final four innings.
Bryant had opportunities to score in the fifth and the eighth but left two runners on in both innings. In the fifth, Brown's single followed a Carignan walk to put two on with one out but Polly worked out of the jam, retiring Bryant's 3-4 hitters on fly out and strikeout. Jamie Skagerlind (Holden, Mass.) was hit by a pitch with two outs in the eighth to put runners on first and second but a fly out to left ended the inning.
For the second-straight game, the Bulldogs' defense helped keep the game close. Following a one-out single in the second, Dan Muscatello (Hopkinton, Mass.) started an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play and DelPonte threw out Alex Diaz trying to swipe second in the third.
Five different players collected a hit for the Bulldogs and Soltis (single and a walk) and Skagerlind (two hit by pitches) each reached base twice. Michaud suffered his first defeat of the season, allowing seven runs (three earned) on seven hits over 3.2 innings. He walked four and struck out four.
Dwyer led the Eagles at the plate, going 3-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored. Wisneski and Suchy each chipped in with a pair of hits as well.
The final game of the weekend series is scheduled for Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Sophomore right-hander Craig Schlitter (Guilford, Conn.) will try and earn the Bulldogs a victory in the series.