Joe Kinker Plays Hero as Baseball Walks Off Liberty - FGCU Athletics

FORT MYERS, Fla. – No amount of Friday the 13th voodoo could stop the FGCU baseball team from partying Friday night as the Eagles fanned the Flames of Liberty, 8-7, on a Joe Kinker walk-off single. The Eagles improve to 31-18 and 15-10 in the ASUN while Liberty falls to 30-18 and 16-9 in conference play.

“I was happy I just got an opportunity to win the game,” said Kinker. “We had two guys on, so I knew I didn’t need to do too much. All I needed was a single, got a good pitch to hit, and did what I needed to do.”

Kinker (North Port, Fla./Venice HS) came to the plate with runners on first and second in the ninth inning of a tie game and knocked an 0-1 pitch to left to score sophomore Ian Farrow (Merritt Island, Fla./Merritt Island HS), bringing the Eagles out of the dugout to celebrate.

Kinker and Farrow left their fingerprints all over the game as Farrow hit two home runs while Kinker hit one as well. They each have 16 home runs on the season to tie for the team-lead.

Liberty took an early 3-0 lead in the first, taking advantage of a couple of Eagle errors, but FGCU responded with four runs in the first on three home runs. Farrow hit a two-run shot before Kinker tied the game up at three. Junior Alejandro Rodriguez (Cidra, Puerto Rico/Montverde Academy/Eastern Florida State) then went back-to-back with Kinker to give the Eagles the lead with his seventh of the season.

The Flames tied the game back up in the second, but Farrow put the Eagles back on top in the home half with his second two-run home run of the night. The Eagles extended their lead to 7-4 in the third on a passed ball.

After a tough start, sophomore Jason Woodward (Titusville, Fla./Titusville HS) settled down and retired the final eight batters he faced, finishing his night with six strikeouts in 5.0 innings.

The Eagle offense slowed down after a fast start and Liberty eventually tied the game with two runs in the seventh and one in the eighth.

In the top of the ninth, the Flames threatened with two baserunners, but sophomore Mason Miller (Odessa, Fla./Mitchell HS) came out of the bullpen to get one big out and send the game to the bottom of the ninth still tied, setting the stage for Kinker’s heroics.

Also of note in tonight’s game was redshirt-junior Brian Ellis (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty HS) going 2-for-5 as he reached base for the 60th consecutive game, just five away from Zach Maxfield’s FGCU record.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8kaEVib8iU

The Eagles will look to keep their momentum going tomorrow against the Flames. First pitch from Swanson Stadium is set for 2 p.m.

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 667-403-3 overall record (.623) and a 224-125 (.641) 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 92 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 45 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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