FORT MYERS, Fla. -
Florida Gulf Coast sophomore first baseman Nick Rivera hit a three-run home run in the first inning and that was more than enough offense for sophomore right-hander Michael Murray to work with as the Eagles took game one of the conference series over ETSU, 14-0, on Friday night at Swanson Stadium.
Murray, one of the top pitchers in the country, improved to 12-0 after holding the Buccaneers scoreless on three hits in six innings. The NCAA leader in wins lowered his ERA from 1.51 to 1.41 as he registered his fourth scoreless outing of the campaign. Meanwhile, senior left-hander Jared Burton (Knoxville, Tenn.) suffered the loss (1-2) after allowing eight runs (seven earned) on 12 hits in 4.1 innings of work, while making his first start in an ETSU uniform.
The Bucs were out-hit, 21-5, as Jordan Sanford (Powell, Tenn.), Tyler Roach (Knoxville, Tenn.), Matt Sorrow (Griffin, Ga.), Kevin Phillips (St. Louis, Mo.) and Brandon Moss (Atlanta, Ga.) accounted for the ETSU hits.
With the setback, the Bucs had their three-game conference win streak snapped as ETSU moved to 24-24, 11-10 in A-Sun play, while the Eagles – who are in the hunt for the regular season championship – improved to 33-18, 16-6.
Following Rivera’s fifth home run, the Eagles added to their lead by scoring a run in the second and third innings, making it a 5-0 score. Colton Bottomley drove in a run with a one-out RBI single in the second, while Zach Tillery led off the third with a solo homer for his fourth round tripper of the year.
However, after holding FGCU scoreless in the fourth, the Eagles struck for six runs on eight hits in the bottom of the fifth to extend their lead to, 11-0.
The Eagles capped off their scoring with a two-run seventh and added one more in the eighth, while FGCU’s pitchers retired 17 of the final 22 ETSU hitters to end the game.
Mario Leon, Brad Labozzetta and Ryan Atwood all pitched one inning of work to secure the Eagles’ fifth shutout of the season.
FGCU had 10 players record a hit and six Eagle hitters finished with multi-hit games. Rivera, Hoffner,Michael Suchy, Gage Morey, and JakeNoll totaled three hits each, while combining for nine runs and seven RBI.
The Blue and Gold look to even the series as game two is set for 2 p.m. on Saturday. Junior right-hander Jimmy Nesselt (Plantation, Fla.) gets the starting nod for ETSU, while FGCU counters with red-shirt sophomore right-hander Brady Anderson.