Big Hits Early Lead Wildcats Past FGCU in Game Two, 3-2
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (2-4) got to hitting early in Sunday’s game against Florida Gulf Coast (4-3), building up an early lead behind strong pitching by starter John Sever, holding off a final push by the Eagles in the 3-2 victory at Jackie Robinson Ballpark.
“They came out hitting today and we definitely saw a step in the right direction,” Head Coach Jason Beverlin said. “They’re continuing to learn and continuing to get better. The more they trust in their ability, the better swings you’re going to see, and the results will come.”
Senior second baseman Matt Noble got Bethune-Cookman started in Sunday’s game two of the series, with a shot straight down the third base line for a double in the bottom of the second inning. Shortstop Shaun McCarty followed up with an RBI single into the first base pocket, and Noble safely beat the throw home, scoring from second.
Facing two outs in the fifth, right fielder Josh Johnson powered a single into the right center gap, setting up a big inning for the Wildcats. First baseman Eric Sams reached on an FGCU infield error, and Eros Modena made the scoring position count, bringing Johnson home on an RBI single to center field. Sams beat the throw at the plate to score one pitch later on a double steal, granting the Wildcats a 3-0 advantage.
With another quality appearance for the junior transfer, Sever pitched 6.1 innings with a season-high nine strikeouts and just one walk.
Facing Chris Waltermire in relief, the Eagles registered one run in the top of the seventh off two hits in the frame, stranding one runner.
Although the Wildcats pushed runners into scoring position once more, their scoring total remained at three into the top of the ninth, when Florida Gulf Coast added some pressure to the mix. With Montana Durapau making a closing appearance for the Wildcats, the Eagles recorded three consecutive hard-hit ground singles to score an additional run. Durapau came through in the clutch, striking out the remaining two FGCU batters, securing the save (1) and a 3-2 victory for Bethune-Cookman.
“Any time you have the winning run on base, it gets a little dicey, but Montana [Durapau] came up big and made pitches when he had to,” Beverlin noted.
Sever (1-0) earned his first career victory, while FGCU starter Nick Deckert (1-1) took the loss for the Eagles. The three Wildcats pitchers pounded the strike zone all afternoon, logging a 74 percent strike percentage.
“I felt pretty locked in all morning,” Sever said. “I was just ready to go, I wanted to come out and get redemption for yesterday. I wanted to attack the strike zone and give my team a chance to win.”
Noble was joined by Johnson and Julian Santos in pacing the Wildcats at the plate, which logged a season-high 10 team hits. Each batted 2-for-4 in the non-conference contest. McCarty and Modena each tallied RBI.
“Matt did a great job,” Beverlin said. “He hit the ball hard all day. It was great to see. He can be a big part of our offense.”
With the series split at 1-1, the series finale payoff game is on the slate on 11 a.m. Sunday (Feb. 23) at Jackie Robinson Ballpark.
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