FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU baseball team (3-0) will look to continue their warm start to the season this Tuesday February. 23 when the team is set to host FAU (2-1) for a midweek match at Swanson Stadium. The first pitch against the owls is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., and the pink out game will feature a “Beat Cancer” campaign.
Tuesday’s competition will be open to about 500 fans, all of whom must remain masked at all times and follow the guidelines for social distancing. For those who can not get to The Nest, there will be a stream on YouTube Live.
For the first time since 2018, the Eagles opened their slate with a perfect weekend, taking down the USF in three games. FGCU first claimed a 4-1 victory in 10 innings before getting an 11-6 result in game two while on the road. The league final, played at Swanson Stadium, saw Green & Blue come back from a 7-0 deficit to defeat the Bulls, 12-10.
Both redshirt sophomores Brian ellis (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) and sophomore Alejandro Figueredo (Sucre, Venezuela / West Oaks HS / Seminole State) led the team on the plate this weekend, hitting a blowing .455. Ellis added four RBIs and scored a couple of runs, while Figueredo achieved the first RBIs of his career and came around to score four times.
Three different green and blue arms took victories this weekend, as a senior Hunter mcgarry (Bradenton, Fla./Bradenton Christian School / State College of Florida-Manatee), junior Joey mugavero (Estero, Fla./Estero HS / Florida Southwestern State) and junior Tyler shuck (Cape Coral, Fla./Canterbury HS) all went to 1-0 this year. McGarry and Shuck achieved their victories under the double head against USF in February. 20, while Mugavero was credited to him under the team’s home team (February 21). The trio combined for a 3.16-ERA and won a total of 10 strokes.
Senior Richie garcia (Davie, Fla./West Broward HS) became the 15th player in program history to reach 200 career hits when he single-handedly topped the ninth in his first game in Tampa. He only needs three more strokes to make the program’s top 10 list.
Garcia also increased his position in the program’s record book when he homers during game two against the Bulls. His solo shot put him at 21 in total for his career, which is fifth all time. He only needs four more to surpass former Eagle Jason Louwsma (2005-06) for fourth. Garcia was one of two Eagles to return home this weekend, along with sophomore Joe nods (North Port, Fla./Venice HS), who had a two-run explosion in the same game.
With his performance this weekend, Ellis expanded his range by reaching the base safely to 19 games. The outfielder recorded hits in all three competitions, and finished both matches one and three with a pair under the belt.
The victories this weekend also expanded FGCU’s winning streak to eight games, all the way back to the 2020 season. In addition to the sweep to USF, the stretch also includes the team’s 6-5 victory over No. 22 Pepperdine from March 3, 2020.
New faces in new places
Six position players and four boxes made their debut in FGCU this weekend. Of the 10, six of them served the start. Figueredo, first-year student Jacob Lojewski (West Palm Beach, Fla./American Heritage Delray), sophomore Alejandro rodriguez (Cidra, Puerto Rico / Montverde Academy / Eastern Florida State), sophomore Stephen Wilmer (Sarasota, Fla./Riverview HS / ECU / Pasco-Hernando State) and freshman Ian farrow (Merritt Island, Fla./Merritt Island HS) all teams start in the field, while Southpaw Mason miller (Odessa, Fla./Mitchell HS) got nodded during the second match on Saturday’s double header.
Scouting the Owls
FAU enters Tuesday’s match with 2-1 points after a weekend against No. 24 UCF. The Owls won the first two matchups (12-6, 20-15) before dropping a 6-15 result on Sunday.
Beginner Caleb Pendleton came with national news when he hit two grand slams during the same round. His bat, which helped raise the Owls to a 20-15 victory, were the first two of his collegiate career. For his efforts, the catcher was named one of Collegiate Baseball’s Week’s National Players.
Pendleton was not the only true freshman to shine this weekend, as classmate Nolan Schanuel finished his first three games with a stroke average of .533. The first baseman swung out three doubles and a home run to go along with his eight RBIs.
Although the offense had a strong start to the season, FAU’s pitching staff allowed a total of 36 races in the first three matches, of which 35 were earned. Thirteen different arms appeared in the season opening series, none of which threw more than five pictures.
What to look for
Tuesday’s result: The Eagles have a 12-9 all-edge edge over the Owls, which includes a 6-4 mark at Swanson Stadium. In recent years, FAU has gained momentum and claimed three of the last five meetings between the teams.
Bats: Despite the difference in combined score from this weekend’s matches (FAU 38, FGCU 27), the teams were fairly regularly matched in hits. The Owls knocked out 38, while the Eagles finished with 31. Both Ellis and Figueredo are tied to the Green & Blue management with five pieces.
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FGCU trainer Dave tollett currently owns a 610-365-3 total record (.624) and a 199-109 (.646) record in ASUN. He is the only head coach in the program’s history and led the program to his first trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2017. He is a five-time ASUN Coach of the Year and has guided Green and Blue to five ASUN Regular Season Championships and one ASUN Tournament Championship. . His team has been ranked nationally on several occasions, including as high as No. 9 in the country in 2017, and has trained 54 picks throughout the conference, 33 draft picks, three current major leagues, 13 current minor leagues, four ASUN Pitchers by year, four All-Americans, three ASUN players of the year, a national freshman player of the year, a national player of the year and a seven-time MLB All-Star.
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FGCU teams have won an incredible 83 regular season conferences and tournament titles in just 13 seasons at Division I level. In addition, the Eagles have in just nine seasons of qualifying after the DI season a total of 38 teams or individuals competed in NCAA championships. Seven FGCU programs have achieved a top-25 national ranking in their respective sports – including women’s basketball (No. 24, 2019-20) and both men’s football (2018, 2019) and women’s football (2018) as three of the latter. In 2016-17, the greens and blues posted one of the department’s best sixth places in the DI-AAA Learfield Directors’ Cup and top-100 that was shown nationally, ahead of several Power-5 and FBS institutions. In 2018-19, the Eagles had an ASUN and the state of Florida’s top seven teams earn the NCAAs Public Recognition Award for their academic progress rate (APR) in their sport and have had the highest percentage of teams so honored from these two groups over the last three the years. FGCU also earned a total of a record 3.46 GPA in the classroom in the spring of the 2020 semester and has surpassed the general university degree population for 22 consecutive semesters. The fall and 2020 spring semesters in 2019 each saw a new milestone when all 15 programs achieved a GPA of 3.0 or higher. The Eagles also served 7,200 volunteer hours in 2017 – they were recognized as one of two runners-up for the inaugural NACDA Community Service Award given by the Fiesta Bowl.