Courtesy: Francis Marion Media Relations
AMERICUS, GA – Sixth-ranked Francis Marion University exploded for a dozen runs on a season-high 23 hits to back six shutout innings from sophomore right-hander Don Sandifer and the Patriots beat Georgia Southwestern State University 12-3 on Friday evening (April 22) to capture at least a share of the program's first-ever Peach Belt Conference regular-season championship.
Francis Marion improves to 34-11 overall and 17-5 in the PBC, while the Hurricanes drop to 25-20 and 9-13. The two teams will conclude their three-game series on Saturday with a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m.
FMU needs one win on Saturday or one loss by Armstrong Atlantic State University in its final five conference games to capture the outright title and the number-one seed for the Peach Belt Tournament. The Patriots' previous best regular-season finishes were three second-place showings, including last season. It is the first regular-season championship of any kind since the 1992 Patriot squad won the NAIA District Six crown.
Sandifer (10-2) allowed only two hits over the first six innings. He tired in the seventh and allowed GSW's three runs on five hits in that frame. He ended the game with three strikeouts and only one walk. Senior righty Patrick Mincey and junior southpaw Jeremy Knab each tossed a scoreless inning in relief to seal the historic win.
Eight different Patriots had multiple hits. Senior left field Martin Gordon and junior second baseman Brock McCallister led the way with four hits apiece. McCallister scored twice and drove in two runs, while Gordon scored twice and drove in one run.
Junior center fielder Buddy Sosnoskie was 3-for-5 with a triple, one run scored, and two RBIs, while extending his hitting streak to 17 games. Senior shortstop Tyler Cappelmann bounced back after having his 10-game hitting streak stopped on Wednesday night with a 3-for-5 evening that included two runs scored and two driven in.
Designated hitter John Jones (2-for-4), first baseman Preston Shuey (2-for-5), right fielder Tyler Boyd (2-for-5), and catcher Brian Paulhus (2-for-4) all registered two hits. Boyd had the game's only home run.
Zach Whitman (4-5) was the Hurricane starter and he allowed six runs on 10 hits in 2.2 innings.
FMU took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second. Three consecutive one-out singles loaded the bases and Paulhus drove in the run with a ground out. In the next inning, the Patriots plated five runs to take a 6-0 advantage. Sosnoskie plated the first run of the frame with a sacrifice fly. Cappelmann later drilled a two-run single followed by an RBI single from Paulhus and two batters later a bases-loaded walk from McCallister.
Francis Marion would add two runs in the fourth and three in sixth to go up 11-0 before GSW tallied its three runs in the bottom of the seventh.