ORANGEBURG, SC – Home runs by senior second baseman Antonio Pino, junior first baseman Tee DuBose, junior outfielder Reese Cooley, and junior William Robbins helped ninth-ranked Francis Marion University build an early lead and the Patriots held off a late rally by Claflin University to claim an 8-6 non-conference win, Wednesday evening (March 8) in baseball action.
Francis Marion improves to 18-2, the best 20-game start in program history. The previous best start was 16-4 on two occasions.
The Patriots return to Peach Belt Conference play this weekend with a three-game series at Georgia Southwestern State University, beginning with a doubleheader on Saturday at 1 p.m.
The long balls helped FMU take an 8-0 lead after six-and-a-half innings.
Cooley and Robbins went back-to-back in the opening inning. Robbins upped the margin to 3-0 with a sacrifice fly in the fifth and freshman third baseman Harris White hit an RBI grounder in the sixth to expand the Patriot lead to 4-0. FMU scored four times in the seventh, highlighted by a lead-off solo shot from Pino and later a two-run homer by DuBose.
Claflin scored three times in the seventh and three times in the ninth to close the margin.
DuBose finished with three hits, while Pino went 2-for-5. Junior designated hitter Zach Paquette picked up a fifth-inning single to extend his hitting streak to 10 games, while also extending his streak of safely reaching base to 16 games.
FMU sophomore southpaw Arien Seymour earned the win with two scoreless innings to open the game. It was predetermined that FMU would go to the bullpen in the third and the Patriots employed seven hurlers who combined to strike out 13 Panther batters.
Sophomore right-hander Cole Hinnant registered his fifth save of the season with an unusual double appearance on the mound. After pitching a scoreless eighth inning, Hinnant moved to the outfield and senior Zach Callahan took over on the mound. Hinnant later returned to the mound with the bases loaded, and after surrendering a run-scoring single, he fanned a Panther for the third out.
Claflin starter Keamond Eison (1-4) was charged with the loss as the Panthers drop to 3-13. Three Claflin batters recorded two hits apiece: left fielder Johnathan Purnell II, right fielder Darrell Langston, and second baseman Jeffery Evans.