Patriot Baseball inks two Palmetto State products

Patriot Baseball inks two Palmetto State products

Francis Marion University baseball coach Art Inabinet has announced the signing of catcher Trystan Freeman of Surfside Beach to a national letter of intent and the addition of first baseman Leniel Gonzalez of Sumter who will transfer to FMU from USC Sumter for his final two seasons.

Freeman, 6-4 and 215 pounds, is a product of St. James High School, where he played for coach Robbie Centracchio.

As a senior, he batted .375 with 14 doubles, five home runs, 30 runs batted in, a .496 on-base percentage, and a .704 slugging percentage, while helping lead the Sharks to a 28-5 record, a No.2 state ranking at the end of the regular season, and a spot in the AAAA Lower State championship game.  He earned first-team All-Region honors for the second year in a row and was selected to play in the SC Baseball Coaches North-South All-Star Game.

As a junior, he was named the 7-AAAA Region Player of the Year after finishing third in the state in hitting (.426) and RBIs (21).  He led the state in slugging at .676 and also garnered All-State recognition.

"During the recruiting process, I was very impressed with Trystan's maturity in handling pitchers," Inabinet said.  "He is a great receiver.  He is also a power threat at the plate and will have the chance to challenge for playing time right away."

Gonzalez, 6-2 and 225 pounds, played the previous two seasons at USC Sumter.  As a sophomore, he batted a team-best .414 with seven doubles, 10 homers, and 40 RBIs.  He also posted a .560 on-base percentage and slugged .679, while committing only one fielding error in 286 chances.  He helped lead the Fire Ants to a 37-23 record, the Region X title, and an appearance in the NJCAA Eastern District championships in New York.

He garnered first-team All-Region honors and was named to the Region X All-Defensive Team.

During his freshman campaign, Gonzalez hit .265 with 10 doubles, four homers, 27 RBIs, and a .406 on-base percentage, while not committing a fielding error in 204 total chances.

He is a graduate of Lakewood High School, where he played for coach Bill Delavan.  He was named the Gators' team most valuable player in 2016.

He also played for the Dalzell-Shaw American Legion Post 175 squad.

"Leniel will hit in the middle of our line-up and fill a need for a left-handed hitting power guy.  He registered some impressive stats at USC Sumter.  He has the ability to hit the ball out of the park every time he comes to the plate, yet also possesses a good eye as evidenced by his 64 walks in 93 career games with the Fire Ants."

Inabinet previously announced the signing of the signing of middle infielder Grayson Cottingham of Florence; left-handed pitchers Josh Bobrowski of Lutz, Fla., and Weston Rogers of Mullins; and right-handed pitchers right-handed pitcher Colby Lee of Latta, Austin Moody of Dillon, and Ethan Meece of Waynesville, N.C.; and right-handed hitting catcher Daulton Dabbs of Sumter.

Francis Marion lost seven seniors off this past season's 18-28 squad.