Backup Bubba Olivera, starting for the injured Patrick Ervin, delivered a stellar performance that included three hits and a home run and led the Ospreys to an opening round win in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament.
The Osprey offense exploded for 10 runs in the first four innings on their way to a 12-6 onslaught over Florida Gulf Coast Wednesday from Dugan Field in Nashville, Tenn.
Olivera, batting last in the order and responsible for only 16 hits all season, hit an RBI single off the top of the left field fence in the second inning, followed by a two-run homer over the same spot in the third to give the Ospreys an 8-0 lead on their way to victory.
After about an hour and half rain delay prior to the first pitch, FGCU starter Brady Anderson came out ice cold, struggling with his control, falling behind early in counts and leaving balls over the center of the plate. After a 29-pitch first inning in which the Eagles escaped allowing only one run, the Ospreys put together a five-run second inning to blow the game wide open. Chris Berry started the inning with a double to right-center that one-hopped the fence. Olivera followed with an RBI bomb off the wall that was about a foot from being over the fence, surprising the redshirt-sophomore who had already broken into a home run trot and therefore only managed a single. Shortstop Kyle Brooks then added his second hit of the game with a tailing line drive down the left-field line that snaked towards the corner for a double. Corbin Olmstead, a unanimous selection for ASUN First Team All-Conference at two positions, put a bow on the inning with a towering home run off a hanging curveball that sailed over the trees behind the left field fence for a 6-0 lead.
The Ospreys weren’t just getting hits — they were ripping the ball all afternoon. Five players recorded doubles, and every batter in the lineup tallied a hit. The team recorded 16 hits total, including 13 in the first four innings.
A quick start has been crucial to the team’s success. The Ospreys are 20-2 when they score in the first inning and 26-5 when they score first in the game.
Olivera rounded out the order by leading the team with three hits, two runs and three RBI. Head coach Smoke Laval complimented his game afterward, noting how versatile his skill-set is and how nice of a player he has become.
Starting pitcher Brian Baker went 5.2 innings, giving up six hits and just two earned runs. The bullpen was unusually shaky, however, with Daniel Moritz and Alex Smith each giving up two runs in 3.1 innings of work.
The Eagles will now head to the losers bracket, where they will play the number-one seeded Kennesaw State Owls, who were upset by Stetson 13-7.
The Ospreys will face the winner of Jacksonville University and Lipscomb Thursday at 7 p.m. Freshman Austin Drury will take the mound for the Ospreys, looking to improve on his team-leading six wins.
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