DeLAND, Fla. Opening the program's third appearance at the Atlantic Sun Conference Champion-ship, the second-seeded FGCU baseball team dropped its first contest Wednesday evening, falling to seventh-seeded Kennesaw State, 3-1, at Melching Field on the campus of Stetson University in DeLand, Fla.
The Eagles took a 37-19 record into their second contest at the championship Thursday evening. FGCU squared off in an elimination game against the loser of Thursday's 10 a.m. game four contest between No. 3 UNF and No. 6 Lipscomb.
Meanwhile, KSU (27-28) advances to play on Friday at 10 a.m. against the winner of the game four meeting.
The Owls put one on the board in the top of the third after a leadoff single through the left side by A-Sun all-conference second teamer Peyton Hart and a sacrifice bunt. With the runner on second, back-to-back singles in the next two at-bats allowed Hart to score for the 1-0 lead.
KSU moved out in front 2-0 on the visitor's side of the fourth when a leadoff single was followed by a one-out double to put runners in scoring position for Hart, who sent an RBI groundout to second base to up the lead to two runs.
FGCU threatened in the fourth inning after a one-out single up middle by redshirt senior Brooks Beisner and consecutive walks to freshman Nick Rivera and sophomore Zack Tillery. Freshman Colton Bottomley followed with a ball to centerfield that looked to be a sacrifice fly, but a great throw on the play nailed Beisner at the plate to eliminate the scoring opportunity and end the inning.
The Eagles found runners on second and third in the fifth with a single through the right side by redshirt sophomore Alex Diaz, a walk to senior catcher Mike Reeves and a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Michael Suchy. However, FGCU went away quietly again with a fly ball to left field and a ground ball to short that stranded the runners in scoring position.
A solo home run in the top of the sixth by all-conference second team member Max Pentecost pushed the Owls' advantage to 3-0.
After recording a pair of outs to begin the bottom of the seventh, the Eagles were able to bring across their first run in the game. Unanimous A-Sun All-Conference first team selection junior Brandon Bednar connected for a single to the shortstop, and fellow all-conference first team outfielder Sean Dwyer recorded his 46th RBI of the year with a double down the left field line to narrow the deficit to 3-1. This proved to be the final scoring of the night as the Green and Blue were unable to rally a comeback over the final two innings.
A-Sun All-Conference first team pick junior right-hander Ricky Knapp (9-3) started the contest for the Eagles and went the full nine innings allowing three runs on nine hits, issuing no walks and recording four strikeouts in the losing effort.
FGCU scored one run on eight hits and one KSU error. Diaz (2-for-3) recorded the only multi-hit game, while seven other Eagles recorded one hit. Dwyer's double in the seventh picked up the lone RBI on the night and Bednar accounted for FGCU's run.
KSU brought in three runs on nine hits and one FGCU defensive miscue. An A-Sun first team selection, junior right-hander Stephen Janas improved to 9-0 with the win, going seven innings and allowing just the lone run on eight hits and four walks to go with five strikeouts.
The Eagles prepare for a 5 p.m. contest on Thursday evening, and await the loser of tomorrow morning's 10 a.m. meeting between No. 3 UNF and No. 6 Lipscomb. Live video, live stats, in-game Twitter (@FGCU_Baseball), results and recaps throughout the weekend will be available at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com.