FLORENCE, SC – Junior second baseman Steven Cox lobbed a walk-off run-scoring single into left centerfield to give Francis Marion University a dramatic 7-6 extra-inning win over Young Harris College, Sunday afternoon (March 18) in the rubber game of the Carolinas Hospital System Baseball Classic.
Francis Marion improves to 11-16 overall and 5-10 in the Peach Belt Conference with its third walk-off win in the last four games. The Mountain Lions drop to 12-13 and 7-8. FMU will play its next four games on the road starting with a 6 p.m. match-up at Newberry College on Tuesday. The next home contest for FMU will be March 27 at 6 p.m. against Newberry.
Junior left fielder Gage Taylor led the Patriots with three hits, while extending his hitting streak to 11 games. Cox also recorded a pair of hits and junior shortstop CJ Mackinson went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and extended his hitting streak to 10 games.
After Young Harris scored twice in the top of the 10th inning, Francis Marion started its three-run rally with a lead-off walk by senior catcher William Robbins (after he battled back from an 0-2 hole). Junior third baseman Alex Griffith hit a ground ball to the shortstop that took a bad hop and was mishandled leaving runners on the corner with no outs. After a line out, a wild pitch moved Griffith into scoring position and junior Cole Hinnant delivered a game-tying, two-run single into right centerfield.
Sophomore right fielder Patrick Jackson followed with a single to left that moved Hinnant into scoring position, still with only one out. Cox then hit the first pitch he saw from Young Harris reliever Steven Eichhorn (1-2) into shallow left centerfield plating Hinnant and setting off a dogpile celebration at first base.
Hinnant, who started the game in right field, also earned the win on the mound as he improved to 2-3. He recorded the final two outs in the top of the 10th after taking over for sophomore righty Christian Umphlett. Umphlett pitched 4.1 innings, allowing four runs on five hits with five strikeouts. FMU starter Garrett Wilson pitched five frames and surrendered only one earned run on five hits.
Centerfielder Skylor Murphy and shortstop Corley Reynolds paced Young Harris with two hits apiece.
Young Harris pushed across an unearned run in the top of the first on a sacrifice fly by first baseman Rudy Gaona. Mackinson equalized the score in the bottom of the inning with an RBI double to the right centerfield wall.
The Mountain Lions took a 2-1 advantage when second baseman Brett Graczyk led off the fifth with a double, went to third on a wild pitch, and scored on an RBI groundout by Logan Worley.
Francis Marion manufactured a pair of runs in the fifth to go on top 3-2, despite the ball leaving the infield only once. A mishandled throw at first base on a grounder to first and consecutive bunt singles by Cox and Taylor loaded the bases with no outs. A strikeout resulted in the first out, but Mackinson was hit by a pitch forcing in the tying run and Robbins hit a sacrifice fly to right field to put FMU ahead.
Young Harris quickly answered on a two-run, pinch-hit double by Bailey Campbell in the top of the sixth to reassume the lead at 4-3.
Taylor led off the FMU seventh with an infield single as he beat out a grounder smothered between first and second. He moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored to knot the score at 4-4 as Mackinson laced a double just inside the third base bag.
Gaona homered to lead off the top of the 10th inning, a 399-foot blast over the center field wall staking the Mountain Lions to a 5-4 advantage. Young Harris later loaded the bases and added a second run (to lead 6-4) on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Graczyk.
Both teams finished the game with 11 hits.
Francis Marion Univ. 7, Young Harris College 6 (Mar 18, 2018 at Florence, SC)
Young Harris College 100 012 000 2 - 6 11 2 (12-13, 7-8 PBC)
Francis Marion Univ. 100 020 100 3 - 7 11 2 (11-16, 5-10 PBC)
Pitchers: Young Harris College - Dylan Gibeau; Blake Metivier(7); Steven Eichhorn(7) and
Cory Ewald. Francis Marion Univ. - Garrett Wilson; Christian Umphlett(6); Cole Hinnant(10) and
Win-Cole Hinnant (2-3) Loss-Steven Eichhorn (1-2) T-3:29 A-543
HR YHC - Rudy Gaona (3).
Weather: Mostly Cloudy,55,Winds: N@4mph