FLORENCE, SC – For the second game in a row, Francis Marion University took a first-inning lead only to have Columbus State University rally to win the game. On Saturday afternoon (April 22), the Cougars scored eight consecutive runs to claim an 8-2 win over the Patriots in Peach Belt Conference baseball action.
Francis Marion falls to 29-18 overall and 9-14 in the Peach Belt, while CSU improves to 27-17 and 14-9. The two teams will conclude their weekend series on Sunday with a single game at 11 a.m. PLEASE note the earlier start time as the first pitch has been moved up two hours in an attempt to avoid afternoon rain.
FMU will recognize its seven seniors prior to the start of Sunday's contest, the final home game of 2017.
Senior shortstop Zach Callahan, junior third baseman Brooks Kennedy, and freshman left fielder Connor Howell all collected two hits apiece for Francis Marion on Saturday as the Patriot baseball program entertained youngsters from the Boys & Girls Club and veterans from the Wounded Warrior Project. For Howell, it was his second straight two-hit performance. The Grainteville, S.C., native also made a nice leaping catch against the left field wall in the fifth inning to rob a Cougar of extra bases.
The Patriots scored an unearned run in the bottom of the first inning. Senior right fielder Zach Paquette reached on a dropped pop-up, moved to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on a second wild pitch, and then scored when the throw to third base from the catcher was errant.
The Cougars answered quickly in their next at bat when left fielder Turner Vincent hit a two-run home run over the scoreboard in left field. CSU added a single run in the sixth, two runs in the seventh, and three more in the ninth to assume an 8-1 advantage. The ninth-inning outburst included a two-run homer by first baseman Mason McClellan.
Senior pinch-hitter Cole Griesinger's line-drive double to left field plated Howell with Francis Marion's second run in the bottom of the ninth.
CSU senior right-hander Brandon Koehler pitched a complete game, surrendering only one earned run on nine hits, while striking out seven.
Trailing 2-1, Francis Marion loaded the bases in the fifth frame, but Koehler induced an inning-ending double play grounder. Patriot junior center fielder Reese Cooley walked in the fifth inning to extend his streak of safely reaching base to 29 straight games.
Senior righty Chance DuCharme (4-4) made his 64th and likely last mound appearance for Francis Marion and suffered the loss. He allowed three runs on three hits in 5.1 innings. Sophomore Cole Hinnant pitched the final 3.2 frames.