Sunshine State Success Continues with 7-5 Win at FGCU
FT. MYERS, Fla. - The Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (27-19) battled through adversity on the road, claiming a back-and-forth non-conference contest at Florida Gulf Coast (22-15), Tuesday evening at Swanson Stadium, using a pair of big innings and solid relief pitching to hold on for a 7-5 win over the Eagles.
“It was definitely a big win,” Head Coach Jason Beverlin said. “They’re a very good baseball team, and overcoming a little adversity on the way over here with the bus breaking down, I thought we stuck with it pretty well.”
The Wildcats came out swinging from the start, as Brandon Turner got B-CU started with a bunt for base hit, and was joined on base by David Lee, who battled out a walk. Anthony Stokes capitalized for B-CU, putting a perfectly-placed RBI single up the middle for the first-inning lead.
B-CU showed few signs of slowing down in the top of the second, as three consecutive singles led to another run, as Turner chopped an RBI single to the left side of the infield. Lee followed up with a line drive RBI to left center for the 3-0 lead after two complete innings, consuming 55 minutes of game time.
Struggles locating pitches in the bottom of the third created an opportunity for the Eagles to get back in the game, as one run scored on Michael Suchy’s single to left field, and a second came home as an RBI walk, the fourth of the inning, narrowing the B-CU advantage to 3-2.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats ran up against an offensive obstacle, as Jack English entered in relief for the Eagles, striking out the first five B-CU batters faced.
“He’s got good stuff,” Beverlin said. “He had those five straight strikeouts and you could see more and more confidence building. He got in that mode of trying to strike everybody out, and it ended up biting him. His success, I think really got him in the end.”
B-CU broke through English’ attack in the fifth as Eric Sams first reached on a walk, breaking the streak of fanned Wildcats, reaching third using a hit-and-run on Matt Noble’s single through the right side. Sams overtook home on Middleton’s bunt single down the right line to extend B-CU’s lead for 4-2.
That’s where things started to break down for the Eagles, as Noble and Middleton score on consecutive FGCU errors, allowing McCarty to reach third. Eros Modena reached on a fielding error at shortstop, sending McCarty home for the 7-2 lead.
The Wildcats were met with miscues of their own in the bottom of the frame, as three consecutive batters reached on free bases, with another scoring on a wild pitch. The Eagles brought in two more runs on Suchy’s single deep to left center with two outs, slimming B-CU’s lead back to two runs at 7-5.
Using a mixture of Gabe Rivera, RJ Brown and Ritchie Erath in relief, FGCU held the Wildcats without any insurance runs across the final four frames, and the Wildcats matched the effort with outstanding relief performances from Byron Ferguson and Jordan Dailey, who earned his 10th save of the 2013 campaign.
Christopher Waltermire (4-1) earned the win, pitching 1.2 innings with two hits, while Ferguson followed up with two innings, allowing one hit and striking out two before giving way to Dailey, who allowed no hits in pitching the final frame.
“One of the most positive things tonight was Byron [Ferguson],” Beverlin noted. “His two big innings looked really good out there and hopefully he’ll learn from this game that as long as he lets the ball go, he’s a very good pitcher.”
Turner and Middleton led the Wildcats at the plate, each batting 2-for-4 with an RBI. Turner also scored one run and Middleton added a pair. Sams also went 2-for-4 adding one run scored.
With the win, the Wildcats remain hot in April, with a record of 13-3 on the month, also wrapping a campaign with a win over every Florida-based team faced this year. The Wildcats are 16-4 against teams from the state of Florida this year.
The Wildcats and Eagles return to action in a second meeting, at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Swanson Stadium.
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