DAYTONA BEACH — The FGCU baseball team (5-3) surrendered a 7-1 lead to Bethune-Cookman (2-4) during Sunday afternoon’s series finale and trailed 10-8 heading into the eighth before the Eagle bats came to life and scored five runs over the final two frames to pick up a 13-10 victory.
Saturday's pitchers' duel was quickly forgotten in this one with the parade of runs coming early and often. The two teams combined to spray 26 hits with five FGCU players collecting multiple. Batting in the leadoff spot, Jake Noll hammered out three hits and drove in a career-best and team-high four runs, scoring twice. Michael Suchy went 3 for 6 with two RBIs, making his first appearance in the two-spot in the order and Cody Hoffner picked up three more hits to give him six in the series. Barron Collier graduate Zack Tillery added two hits, three runs and three RBIs.
Brad Labozzetta struggled in his second start of the year. The redshirt-freshman tossed three innings allowing just two hits and striking out five but handed out five walks that turned into four runs. Things did not get much better with Jack English and Sterling Koerner on the mound. The pair combined to give up seven hits in 2.2 innings of work, giving up six runs. English failed to record an out. Gulf Coast graduate Mario Leon grabbed his first win following 2.1 innings of work, keeping FGCU in the game and it was Brady Anderson who came on in the ninth to lock down his third save of the season.
“It was a good come-from-behind win for us today,” head coach Dave Tollett added after the game. “We had one bad inning of baseball today but our bats came alive for the first time this year. Our pitching has carried us this whole season and it was good to see that when we struggled today our offense picked up our staff. A game like that is great to see and says a lot about a young club.”
B-CU got to Labozzetta early, scoring the first run of the ball game in the bottom of the first but it was FGCU who would catch fire first in the second. Kevin Young led off the frame with a single and with one out Hoffner singled to right to put runners on first and second for Tillery who doubled to deep left, clearing the bases. Gage Morey followed with a hit to drive in Tillery for the third run of the inning and came around to score later in the second when Noll singled through the left side, giving the Green and Blue a 4-1 advantage through two.
FGCU got hot again in the fourth beginning with another Hoffner single. Tillery followed with his second hit, forcing the B-CU starting pitcher out the game. Morey sacrificed the runners to second and third and with two outs Noll doubled to left center, driving in both runners. Suchy came up next and brought home Noll to give Labozzetta a 7-1 lead heading into the bottom half of the fourth.
The wheels would come off the FGCU pitching staff in the fourth. Labozzetta walked the first three batters of the inning and would be replaced by English at that point. The first batter English faced fired a single down the right field line, driving in two. A wild pitch would bring home the third run of the inning and another single brought home run number four. Another wild pitch and a hit batsman would force English out of the game without recording an out. Koerner came to attempt to limit the damage but after recording two quick outs, game up a single and an inside-the-park home run that drove in three more B-CU runs, erasing the 7-1 FGCU advantage and giving the Wildcats a 9-7 lead through four.
The FGCU bats remained quiet until the seventh by which point the Wildcats had tacked on some insurance to make it 10-7. The Eagles worked back-to-back-back walks to get things rolling and with one out following a Hoffner ground ball that saw Nick Rivera forced out at home, Tillery lifted a sacrifice fly to right, scoring the lone run of the inning. The Eagles would strand two but shrink the B-CU lead to 10-8.
Leon sat the Wildcats down in order in the bottom half of the seventh and with one out in the eighth, Noll walked bringing up Suchy who doubled down the left field line to put runners on second and third for Rivera who singled to right, bringing in Noll and putting runners on first and third with one out for Young who sacrificed Rivera to second with a bunt and scored Suchy to tie the game.
Leon kept B-CU at bay once again in the eighth and it was Hoffner leading things off in the ninth with a single that put the Eagles in position to complete the comeback and pick up a win. Tillery followed with a walk and Morey bunted his way on to load the bases for Alex Diaz who struck out against a new B-CU pitcher. Noll came to the plate and walked for the second time to give the Eagles the lead that they would extend to 13-10 for Anderson who came on in the ninth and shut the door with rain coming down to secure the victory.
FGCU returns to the field next weekend in Gainesville to take on Florida in a pair of games with two games opposite Illinois in the middle. The game on Thursday at Florida is set to being at 7 p.m. The Eagles will take on Illinois on Friday at 1 p.m. and again Saturday at 1 p.m. before closing the weekend with a solo game on Sunday opposite Florida at 7 p.m.