Francis Marion University senior center fielder Gage Taylor and junior designated hitter Leniel Gonzalez were named to the Peach Belt Conference's baseball All-Conference team on Thursday night (May 9) at the annual awards banquet.
A South Lebanon, Ohio, native, Taylor was one of four outfielders selected to the first team. He leads Francis Marion in numerous offensive categories, including a .347 batting average, which ranks 10th in the Peach Belt. Taylor also paces the Patriots in hits (67), runs (48), doubles (17), and RBIs (47), placing him in the top-5 in the conference in each of those categories. His 11 stolen bases lead FMU, and are eighth-most in the PBC. He has hit four home runs, the first two of which were two of the Peach Belt Conference record-breaking seven grand slams Francis Marion has hit this season.
Taylor is one of two Patriots to have started all 46 games this season, and has reached base safely in 40 of those 46 contests. He owns a team-best 21 multi-hit games, and has driven in multiple runs in a team-high 13 contests. The senior enters this weekend's PBC Tournament on a six-game hitting streak, and has multiple hits in five of those six games.
A native of Sumter, S.C., Gonzalez was selected as the PBC second-team designated hitter. He has reached base in 34 of 38 games this season, owns a .316 batting average, and boasts the fifth-highest on-base percentage (.462) and eighth-highest slugging percentage (.586) in the Peach Belt. He has hit a team-high nine home runs, while adding nine doubles and 38 RBIs. His being hit by a pitch 12 times, ranks third in the conference.
Earlier in the year, the switch-hitter blasted two homers in back-to-back games, launching a pair in a win at the University of North Georgia on March 31, and following that up with two more in his next game, a win at UNC Pembroke on April 6 (these two coming from different sides of the plate). His second long ball against the Braves was Francis Marion's PBC record-breaking seventh grand slam of the season, and Gonzalez's second four-run homer of the year.
Gonzalez has registered 13 multi-hit games and driven in multiple runs in nine contests. He is the only Patriot to have driven in five or more runs in a game twice this season, and he and Taylor are the only two FMU batters to have a six-RBI effort in 2019.
FMU (27-19) will be the seventh seed for the Peach Belt Conference Tournament, which begins Friday (May 10) in St. Augustine, Fla. The Patriots are in Pool B, and will take on the hosts, second-seeded Flagler College, in their first game of pool play on Friday at 5 p.m. Francis Marion will face six-seeded Columbus State University on Saturday at 1:30 p.m., and then conclude pool play against third-seeded USC Aiken on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. The top team in each pool will advance to the championship game on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.
Taylor is a graduate of Kings High School, while Gonzalez is a product of Lakewood High School.