Baseball Set to Host North Dakota State Before Opening ASUN Play at Stetson

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FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU baseball team is set for four games this week, beginning with North Dakota State at Swanson Stadium on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. before hitting the road to take on Stetson in the ASUN opening series.

The Eagles enter the week with a 12-4 overall record after taking two of three games against Fairfield over the weekend. It is the best start to a season through 16 games for the Eagles since beginning 13-3 in 2018.

Last Time Out
The Eagles took the series against the Stags with an 8-3 win on Friday and a 14-4 victory in game two of Sunday’s doubleheader. In game one of the Sunday doubleheader, FGCU fell behind and were unable to complete a comeback as they fell 7-6.

Sophomore Jason Woodward (Titusville, Fla./Titusville HS) continued his strong start to the season on the mound as he threw 7.0 scoreless innings with eight strikeouts and just two hits allowed. For the season, he is 3-1 with a 1.82 ERA and 30 strikeouts.

National Leaders
The Eagles are in the top 20 in multiple categories after four weeks of play.

Team
Base on Balls – 101, 7th
Doubles – 42, 12th
Doubles-per-game – 2.62, 13th
Hit-by-pitch – 43, 2nd
Hits – 177, 15th
On-Base Percentage – .455, 2nd
Runs – 163, 4th
Scoring – 10.2, 6th
Shutouts – 2, 20th
K/BB Ratio – 3.51, 19th

Individual
Base on Balls – Joe Kinker, 18, 2nd
BB/Game – Joe Kinker, 1.12, 12th
Doubles – Brian Ellis, 9, 9th
HBP – Brian Ellis, 10, 5th
HBP/Game – Brian Ellis, 0.62, 11th
Hits Allowed/Nine – Najer Victor, 2.55, 3rd
OBP – Brian Ellis, .585, 9th
Runs – Brian Ellis, 22, 18th
Runs – Joe Kinker, 22, 18th
RBI – Ian Farrow, 23, 16th
Victories – Jason Woodward, 3, 17th
WHIP – Najer Victor, 0.41, 4th

Get ‘Em On, Get ‘Em In
The Eagles have scored 163 runs this season already, the fourth-most in the nation. A large reason for that success is that the Green and Blue is getting on base at an extremely high mark as they have an on-base percentage of .455, which is second in the country. They are currently also in the top-10 in the  NCAA leaders in both hit-by-pitch (2nd, 43) and walks (7th, 101).

Ellis Named ASUN Player of the Week
For the first time in his career, redshirt-junior Brian Ellis (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) was named ASUN Player of the Week (Feb 28). Including the game against Minnesota, Ellis hit .556 (10-for-18) with four doubles , two home runs, 12 RBI and had an OPS of 1.747. His on-base percentage for the season now sits at .600, which includes an NCAA most seven hit-by-pitches, and has raised his career on-base percentage to .501, the second-highest among active players.

Victor Honored by ASUN
Sophomore Najer Victor (Philadelphia, Pa./East Ridge HS) was named ASUN Pitcher of the Week (Feb. 21) after tossing 5.2 innings, giving up just two hits and one earned run while striking out 10 and walking none against Cincinnati in the season-opening series.. It was just the second start of Victor’s career and his 10 strikeouts sets a new career-high. It is also the most strikeouts by an Eagle since Mason Studstill struck out 11 on March 6, 2020 against Saint Joseph’s.

Preseason All-ASUN Selections
Redshirt-junior Brian Ellis (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) and junior Joe Kinker (North Port, Fla./Venice HS) return to the Eagles after being named All-ASUN a season ago. They were both also named to the Preseason All-ASUN team a couple of weeks ago.

Ellis, a First-Team All-ASUN selection in 2021, is also on the Bobby Bragan Collegiate Slugger Award Watch List, which takes into consideration performance on the field, in the classroom, and in the community. Ellis hit .361 last season and also led the ASUN with a .489 on-base percentage while collecting 31 RBI and scoring 45 runs. He was also named the 43rd-ranked outfielder in the country by d1baseball.com.

Kinker was a second-team All-ASUN selection last season after leading the Green and Blue with 13 home runs. He also led the Eagles with 44 RBI and 87 total bases while hitting .271.

Two other Eagles were named to the Preseason All-ASUN team as transfers Luis Rodriguez (Guarenas, Venezuela/Miami Christian HS/Santa Fe College/Dyersburg State) and Bobby Head (Winter Garden, Fla./West Orange HS/Austin Peay) also earned spots. Rodriguez comes from Santa Fe College where he hit .359 with 14 home runs, 78 RBI, and 61 runs scored in two seasons while Head transfers in after playing four years at Austin Peay where he was an All-OVC First-Team selection in 2021.

Scouting the Competition
North Dakota State is currently 9-7 after defeating FAU, 12-3, on Tuesday in Boca Raton. The Bison are coming off a 42-19 season in 2021 and an appearance in NCAA Regionals, where they defeated Nevada in the Stanford region.

The Bison were picked second in the Summit League behind perennial power Oral Roberts while Infielder Peter Brookshaw and pitcher Max Loven were named players to watch in the league. Brookshaw currently leads NDSU with a .367 batting average and 12 RBI. As a team, the Bison like to play small ball as they are currently sixth in the country in sacrifice bunts (13) and 26th in stolen bases (30).

Stetson enters the weekend at 12-5 and winners of seven straight games.  The Hatters were picked to finish third in the ASUN behind Liberty and FGCU. All-ASUN Preseason selection Nick Durgin made his season debut last Friday and threw four shutout innings with five strikeouts. At the plate, Anthony DeFabbia leads the team with a .373 batting average while Cameron Hill has a team-best .963 OPS.

Similar to NDSU, the Hatters also play small ball they are seventh in the nation with 40 stolen bases while hitting just three home runs. Another thing Stetson excels in is their command as they have walked just 33 batters in 156.0 innings pitched for a 2.08 BB/9 IP ratio, second-best in the country.

Probable Pitching Matchups
VS. NORTH DAKOTA STATE, WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16, 6:30 P.M.
RHP Ben Smith (0-1, 10.00 ERA, 3 K) vs. LHP Mason Miller (1-2, 5.27 ERA, 21 K)

AT STETSON, FRIDAY, MARCH 18, 6:30 P.M.
Jason Woodward (3-1, 1.82 ERA, 30 K) vs. TBA

AT STETSON, SATURDAY, MARCH 19, 6:30 P.M.
Tyler Shuck (2-1, 3.26 ERA, 19 K) vs. TBA

AT STETSON, SUNDAY, MARCH 20, 1 P.M.
Najer Victor (2-0, 2.55 ERA, 23 K) vs. TBA

For complete coverage of FGCU baseball, follow the Eagles on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at @FGCU_Baseball and online at www.FGCUAthletics.com. You can also sign up to have news on FGCU baseball or other programs delivered directly to your inbox by visiting www.fgcuathletics.com/email.
 
COACH TOLLETT
FGCU coach Dave Tollett currently owns a 648-389-3 overall record (.623) and a 211-115 (.647) record in the ASUN. He is the only head coach in the program’s history and led the program to its first trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2017. He is a five-time ASUN Coach of the Year and has guided the 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 coached 58 all-conference selections, 33 draft picks, three current major leaguers, 13 current minor leaguers, four ASUN Pitchers of the Year, four All-Americans, three ASUN Players of the Year, one National Freshman Player of the Year, one National Player of the Year and one seven-time MLB All-Star.
 
E.A.G.L.E. CAMPAIGN
IT TAKES A TEAM to achieve our newest goal – a $10 million campaign to address student-athlete needs in continued academic success, life skills, mental health, nutrition, and strength and conditioning as well as departmental needs in facility expansion and improvement as well as mentoring and leadership training for coaches and staff. The name embodies our mission and the purpose of the E.A.G.L.E. Campaign – Eagle Athletics Generating Lifetime Excellence. Join Our Team and pledge your gift today to help the Eagles of tomorrow!
 
#FEEDFGCU
FGCU Athletics sponsors events in November and April to benefit the FGCU Campus Food Pantry (www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry) and the Harry Chapin Food Bank (www.harrychapinfoodbank.org), FGCU Athletics’ charities of choice. For more information, including how to make a contribution, please visit www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry and utilize the hashtag #FeedFGCU to help raise awareness.

ABOUT FGCU
FGCU teams have combined to win an incredible 89 conference regular season and tournament titles in just 14+ seasons at the Division I level. Additionally, in just 10 seasons of D-I postseason eligibility, the Eagles have had a combined 43 teams or individuals compete in NCAA championships. Eight FGCU programs have earned a top-25 national ranking in their respective sport – including women’s basketball (No. 20, 2021-22), beach volleyball (No. 20, 2022) and both men’s soccer (2018, 2019) and women’s soccer (2018) as three of the most recent. In 2016-17, the Green and Blue posted a department-best sixth-place finish in the DI-AAA Learfield Directors’ Cup and top-100 showing nationally, ahead of several Power-5 and FBS institutions. In 2018-19, the Eagles had an ASUN and state of Florida best seven teams earn the NCAA’s Public Recognition Award for their Academic Progress Rate in their sport. FGCU also collectively earned a record 3.50 GPA in the classroom in the fall 2020 semester and has outperformed the general University undergraduate population for 25 consecutive semesters. The past five semesters (Fall 2019 – Fall 2021) each saw another milestone reached as all 15 programs achieved a 3.0-or-higher team GPA in each. The Eagles also served an all-time high 7,200 volunteer hours in 2017 – being recognized as one of two runners-up for the inaugural NACDA Community Service Award presented by the Fiesta Bowl.
 

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