Patriots erupt in sixth to take series and earn top seed

Pembroke, NC - From Francis Marion University

PEMBROKE, NC – Senior third baseman John Lewis Floyd homered to spark a seven-run sixth inning and eighth-ranked Francis Marion University rode the strong pitching of senior righty Barrett Kleinknecht to beat 21st-ranked UNC Pembroke 11-1, Sunday afternoon (April 18) in the rubber game of a Peach Belt Conference baseball series at Sammy Cox Field.

Francis Marion improves to 35-10 overall and 14-7 in the PBC and secures the top seed for the East Division in next month's PBC Tournament.  UNCP falls to 29-13 and 13-11.  The two teams will share the East Division title, which is decided solely on games played within the division.

FMU will play at St. Andrews Presbyterian College on Wednesday at 3 p.m.

Kleinknecht (5-0) ran his scoreless innings streak to 26.2 innings before allowing a run in the seventh inning. He allowed only five singles, while striking out eight in the complete-game effort. His season earned run average actually rose from 0.87 to 0.91.

Right fielder Austin Smetana was 3-for-5 at the plate for FMU, including two doubles, a run scored, and three driven in.  Both Josh Biggers and Kleinknecht recorded two hits, with Kleinknecht scoring three times.

Floyd, making only his third start of the year, homered to lead off the sixth and snap a scoreless tie.  Altogether, Francis Marion sent 11 batters to the plate in an error-filled frame that yielded seven runs.  After the homer, FMU capitalized on three more hits and a pair of UNCP miscues to plate six additional runs. The Patriots pushed their lead out to 9-0 on Smetana's two-run double in the seventh, before the Braves spoiled the shutout on Aaron Parnell's RBI ground out in the home half of the frame.

Kleinknecht singled and later scored in the ninth and the Patriots added a final run on the last of six UNCP errors to conclude the scoring.

Justin Yow (7-3) yielded seven runs (five earned) in the decisive sixth to receive his third-straight loss from the hill.  UNCP was led by Jason Coker's 2-for-4 outing at the plate.