FLORENCE, SC – Despite a five-hit performance from senior second baseman Matt Rubino in his debut as a Patriot, Francis Marion University dropped its baseball season opener 14-4 to Lenoir-Rhyne University, Saturday afternoon (Jan. 31) in the opening game of the 10th-annual Carolinas Hospital System Classic co-sponsored by the Florence Area Sports Council.
Francis Marion (0-1) will face the College of Saint Rose later on Saturday evening.
The Bears (1-0) leapt to a 7-0 lead after their first three at bats and sent FMU lefty starter Matt Kelley (0-1) to an early shower.
Francis Marion closed to within 7-4 in the last of the fifth inning, but Lenoir-Rhyne answered with four runs in the top of the sixth to extend the margin to 11-4.
Rubino collected four singles and a double, while scoring two runs. His five hits were one shy of the FMU single-game record. No other Patriot had more than one hit.
Junior shortstop Randy Loew plated the Patriots' first run with an RBI single in the last of the third inning. Junior left fielder JD Crowe and junior third baseman Ryan Miller delivered run-scoring singles in the fifth frame, while senior first baseman Conner Wessel had a sacrifice fly.
Kelley, the first of five FMU hurlers, allowed four runs, all earned, while facing seven batters.