FMU falls one win shy of title game
ST. AUGUSTINE, FL – Francis Marion University saw its 2019 season come to an end with a 22-7 loss in seven innings to USC Aiken on Saturday night (May 11) in the final game of pool play at the 2019 Peach Belt Conference Baseball Tournament.
Seventh-seeded Francis Marion finishes its season 28-21, a 10-win improvement over the 2018 campaign. Third-seeded USC Aiken (32-21) advanced to Sunday afternoon’s championship game.
In their final games as Patriots, seniors Cole Hinnant (three hits) and Gage Taylor (two hits) combined to register five of the team’s eight knocks. Hinnant, Taylor, and fellow senior catcher Alex Griffith drove in two runs apiece.
Six Pacers registered multiple hits, led by senior designated hitter Conner Durden’s two home runs and five RBIs. Sophomore catcher Luke Leisenring also homered and drove in four.
The Patriots got off to a quick start, as Taylor lined an opposite field home run down the left field line three batters into the contest to give FMU a 1-0 edge.
Durden answered with a solo shot of his own in the bottom of the second to even the score. Later in the frame, the Pacers had the bases loaded with two outs when an FMU error allowed three runs to score. Leisenring then launched a three-run homer to put the Pacers in front 7-1.
USC Aiken erupted for 11 runs in the third, highlighted by a Durden grand slam. A single run in the fourth and three more in the sixth concluded the evening’s offense for the Pacers.
Francis Marion pushed across six runs in the seventh. Hinnant and Griffith each drove in a pair with singles, while Taylor and junior first baseman Nick Pappas notched a run-scoring base hit apiece.
Senior southpaw Garvin Alston Jr. (5-5) went the distance to pick up the win for the Pacers, allowing one earned run while striking out seven.
Senior right-hander Evan Flynn (5-3) was saddled with the loss for FMU, giving up seven runs, only one of which was earned, in 1.2 innings.
Suiting up for the final time for the Patriots were senior outfielders Henry Davis IV, Hinnant and Taylor; right-handed pitchers Flynn, Isaac Rodgers, Warren Specht, and Will Taks; infielders CJ Mackinson and Fred Wadsworth; and Griffith.