Six-run eighth keeps Patriots alive at PBC Tournament

Six-run eighth keeps Patriots alive at PBC Tournament

ST. AUGUSTINE, FL – Francis Marion University scored six runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, including clutch two-run singles by junior first baseman Nick Pappas and senior catcher Alex Griffith, to rally for a 9-7 victory over Columbus State University and keep its chances of advancing alive, Saturday afternoon (May 11) at the 2019 Peach Belt Conference Baseball Tournament.

The seventh-seeded Patriots (28-20) conclude play pool later on Saturday evening as they face third-seeded USC Aiken at 8:30 p.m. FMU needs to knock off the Pacers, and have CSU defeat Flagler College in the 5:45 p.m. contest, to keep its chances of advancing to Sunday afternoon's championship game intact. The loss extinguished Columbus State's chances of advancing, and the Cougars drop to 30-20.

Freshman left fielder Will Hardee, senior shortstop CJ Mackinson, senior third baseman Fred Wadsworth, and Griffith each had two hits for FMU. Mackinson and Griffith registered two RBIs apiece, while Hardee extended his on-base streak to 17 games in a row, tied for the longest such streak by a Patriot in 2019.

Senior center fielder Garrett Kirkwood had three hits for the Cougars, while junior right fielder Drew Webb, senior shortstop Kendall Ford, and sophomore designated hitter Robert Brooks drove in two runs apiece for CSU.

Down 7-3 in the bottom of the eighth, the first three Patriots reached to load the bases for senior right fielder Cole Hinnant. Hinnant coaxed a walk from the CSU closer, cutting FMU's deficit to three and putting the tying runs on base. After a Cougars' error brought in another run and kept the bases loaded, Pappas singled through the left side to even the score at 7-7. Following a sacrifice bunt, Griffith knocked a base hit through the drawn-in infield to put Francis Marion ahead 9-7.

Junior right-hander Ethan Meece came on for FMU in the top of the ninth and set down the Cougars in order to pick up his second save of the season.  Mackinson turned in a pair of stellar plays from deep in the hole at shortstop to aid Meece.

Both teams threatened in the early going, including Columbus State loading the bases in the top of the first, but the contest remained scoreless until the bottom of the third. With two outs, Hinnant singled, moved to third on an error, and then came home on a balk to give the Patriots the first run of the afternoon.

The Cougars responded in the next half inning, as Ford singled in a pair to put CSU in front. Columbus State then added four more in the sixth to extend its advantage to 6-1.

In the bottom of the sixth, Mackinson drove in a run with a fielder's choice grounder and Hardee plated another with a single to bring Francis Marion within three, 6-3. The Patriots had the bases loaded with one out in the frame, but Cougars' junior righty Thomas Howell retired the next two batters to keep FMU from closing the gap any further.

Columbus State pushed its advantage to four with a single run in the top of the eighth.

Sophomore left-hander Weston Rogers (5-3) picked up the win in relief for Francis Marion after pitching the eighth inning.

Cougars' sophomore righty Devin Dudal (3-4) absorbed the loss, surrendering four runs, three of which were earned, in FMU's six-run eighth.


Francis Marion 9, Columbus State 7 (May 11, 2019 at St. Augustine, Fla.)
Columbus State...... 000 204 010  -  7 13  2      (30-20)
Francis Marion......   001 002 06X  -  9 13  2      (28-20)
Pitchers: Columbus State - Jalen Latta; Thomas Howell (6); Sheridan Coy (8); Devein Dudal (8)
and Bryce Delevie.  Francis Marion - Isaac Rodgers; Patrick Orlando (4); Christian Umphlett (6);
Weston Rogers (8); Ethan Meece (9) and Alex Griffith.
Win-Weston Rogers (5-3)  Save-Ethan Meece (2)  Loss-Devin Dudal (3-4)  T-3:03  A-77
Weather: 79; cloudy; w:9 mph r-l
I.Rodgers faced 4 batters in the 4th.         S. Coy faced 2 batters in the 8th.