Patriots Erupt In Sixth To Take Series
PEMBROKE – Visiting and eighth-ranked Francis Marion broke open a scoreless game with seven runs in the top of the sixth inning and rode a phenomenal outing from senior Barrett Kleinknecht to a series-clinching 11-1 rout of No. 21 UNCP in the weekend rubber game Sunday afternoon at Sammy Cox Field.
UNCP (29-13, 13-11 PBC) managed just five singles in the contest, including a 2-for-4 outing from Jason Coker who also scored the only run of the game for the hosts. Three other Braves recorded base hits as well.
Austin Smetana hit a pair of doubles, drove in three runs and crossed the plate three times on a 3-for-5 outing for the Patriots (35-10, 14-7) who will share the PBC East title with the Braves, but will represent the division as the No. 1 seed in next month's league tournament. Kleinknecht helped his own cause by scoring three times on a 2-for-5 hitting line, while Josh Biggers drove in a run and scored once on a 2-for-4 outing. John Lewis Floyd hit a solo homer for the visitors as well.
Justin Yow (7-3) yielded seven runs (five earned) and four hits in the decisive sixth to saddle his third-straight loss from the hill. Kleinknecht (5-0) stayed perfect on the season by registering his second complete game in three starts. The senior from Florence, S.C., struck out eight and allowed just five hits over the outing.
After managing just one scoring opportunity through the first five innings, Francis Marion sent 11 batters to the plate in an error-filled sixth inning, getting a leadoff homer from Floyd to begin the frame, and then capitalizing on three more hits and a pair of UNCP miscues to plate six more 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 to cap the scoring on the day.
UNCP will continue a regular season-ending nine-game home stand on Thursday when the Braves welcome Belmont Abbey (18-23) to Pembroke for a 6 p.m. contest at Sammy Cox Field. Admission prices are $5 for adults and $2 for children 18 years of age and younger. UNCP students are admitted free with a valid Braves Card.