FLORENCE, SC – With two outs in the eighth, junior catcher Logan Koch drilled an 0-2 pitch into center field for a two-run single to rally Francis Marion University to an 8-6 win over UNC Pembroke, Friday night (April 8) in Peach Belt Conference baseball action.
The Patriots improve to 21-16 overall and 9-10 in conference play, placing the Patriots in a three-way tie for sixth place with UNCP (23-13, 9-10) and the University of North Georgia.
FMU and UNCP will continue their three-game series with a single contest on Saturday at 3 p.m. with Pepsi of Florence, the Wound Warrior Project, and McLeod's Children's Hospital joining the Patriots at Sparrow Stadium.
After surrendering three runs to the Braves in the top of the eighth and falling behind 6-5, FMU rallied in the bottom of the frame, scoring three times with two outs. Senior right fielder JD Crowe started the rally with a two-out walk, followed by a base-on-balls to senior first baseman Randy Loew. Senior outfielder Casey Clauss was then hit by a pitch to load the bases and Koch followed with his go-ahead single off UNCP reliever Henry Simpson (0-1). Junior designated hitter Zach Callahan completed the scoring with an RBI single through the left side to give the Patriots a two-run cushion at 8-6.
After extinguishing the UNCP outburst in the eighth, junior right-hander John McGinty (2-1) pitched a scoreless top of the ninth to earn the win.
Crowe reached base all five times he batted with three singles and two walks. Sophomore second baseman Brooks Kennedy extended his streak of safely reaching bases to 25 games with two doubles, a single, and a walk.
After UNCP pushed a cross a run in the top of first, FMU answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame. The first run came across on a UNCP fielding error and Crowe brought home the second tally with an RBI single to right center.
The Patriots upped the margin to 4-1 in the last of the second on an RBI double down the left field line by Kennedy and a run-scoring single by junior shortstop Antonio Pino.
In the fourth, UNCP first baseman Christian Snider trimmed the margin to 4-2 with an RBI fielder's choice dribbler that FMU starting pitcher Fernando Pinillos back-handed to home plate, but the runner beat the throw. That play left the bases loaded with no outs, but Pinillos was able to escape further damage by inducing a double-play grounder and recording a strikeout.
Pinillos escaped trouble in the fifth when left fielder Chase Haas caught a fly ball and threw out a UNCP runner attempting to tag and score from third.
Junior Drew Beaver singled to lead off the Braves' sixth inning and eventually came around to score on an RBI grounder by Snider. FMU answered with a manufactured run in the bottom half of the sixth. Kennedy walked with one out, stole second, and scored on a ground ball single through the right side by Crowe.
Beaver bounced a single through the left side in the top of the eighth to plate Nick Salisbury and bring UNCP to within 5-4. One batter later, Snider drilled a two-run double off the left centerfield wall to give the Braves its first lead (6-5) since the first inning.
Beaver finished the game 4-for-4, while both Salisbury and right fielder Nick Debo had two hits apiece. Snider registered four RBIs.
Pinillos surrendered three runs on six hits in 5.1 innings, while Braves' starter Jesse Stinnett pitched four innings, allowing four runs on eight hits. UNCP pitchers issued six walks with three of those eventually resulting in a run.