Pacers score late to down Patriots 10-2

Pacers score late to down Patriots 10-2

FLORENCE, SC – USC Aiken took advantage of a pair of errors to score five unearned runs in the top of the seventh and the Pacers went on to a 10-2 win over Francis Marion University, Friday night (Feb. 22) in Peach Belt Conference baseball action.

FMU drops to 8-4 overall and 5-2 in the PBC, while USCA improves to 8-3 and 1-0. The two squads will play the second game of the three-game set on Saturday at 2 p.m.  Francis Marion will be celebrating Homecoming 2019 and admission is free.

Senior right fielder Cole Hinnant led Francis Marion with two hits, including a double, and a run batted in. Senior shortstop CJ Mackinson was 1-for-4 and extended his hitting streak to nine games.

Senior designated hitter Conner Durden homered twice, doubled, and walked, while scoring three times for the Pacers.

FMU senior right-hander Evan Flynn started for the Patriots and allowed only two runs on five hits over 5.2 innings.  He struck out seven, and altogether five Francis Marion hurlers fanned 11 Pacers.

Durden staked the Pacers to a 1-0 lead with a lead-off homer to right in the top of the second.  USCA later loaded the bases with only one out, but Flynn stranded the trio with an infield pop-up and a strikeout.

FMU knotted the score when senior catcher Alex Griffith walked and Mackinson lifted a pop single down the right field line to put two runners on with no outs in the last of the third. Both runners moved up on a sacrifice bunt by junior third baseman Patrick Jackson, and Griffith scored on an RBI ground out by Hinnant.

In the bottom of the fourth, junior designated hitter Nick Pappas placed a double just inside the left field line and junior second baseman Grayson Cottingham walked, but USCA starter Mitch Spence (2-1) fanned the next two Patriots to strand the baserunners.

In the next Patriot half-inning, Jackson walked with one out and Hinnant followed with double on the chalk down the right field line.  Senior center field Gage Taylor put FMU up 2-1 with a line-drive RBI single through the right side.  Pappas was walked intentionally loading the bases with one out, but the next two batters were retired on a strikeout and a pop up to end the threat.

USCA then scored nine unanswered runs – eight of them unearned – over the final four frames.

Duden homered for the second time, this time to right center leading off the sixth, to tie the score at 2-2.

In the top of the seventh, a lead-off walk issued by FMU right-hander Warren Specht (1-1) and a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt attempt opened the flood gates for five runs.

The Patriots looked to mount a rally in the last of the seventh, but ended up stranding two runners in scoring position.

Two relievers followed Spence on the mound for the Pacers and tossed three scoreless innings.


Post-game comments from FMU head coach Art Inabinet



USC Aiken 10, Francis Marion 2 (Feb 22, 2019 at Florence, SC)
USC Aiken...........  010 001 512  - 10 10  1      (8-3, 1-0 PBC)
Francis Marion...... 001 010 000  -  2  5  4      (8-4, 5-2 PBC)
Pitchers: USC Aiken - Mitch Spence; Connor Christensen (7); Austin Sandifer (8) and Lu. Leisenring. Francis Marion - Evan Flynn; Warren Specht (6); Patrick Orlando (7); Austin Moody (8); Brayden Barry (9) and Alex Griffith.
Win-Mitch Spence (2-1)  Loss-Warren Specht (1-1)  T-3:14  A-648
HR USCA - Conner Durden 2.
Weather: Overcast, 54 degrees, winds NE
Specht faced 1 batter in the 7th.