Nightmarish Start Helps No. 5 Patriots Clinch Series With No. 7 UNCP
FLORENCE, S.C. – Fifth-ranked Francis Marion sent its entire order to the plate en route to tacking up a five-run first inning, and then added two more scores in the second, to help the Patriots cruise to a series-clinching 10-0 victory over No. 7 UNCP in the back half of a series-opening doubleheader on Sunday afternoon at Cormell Field.
The setback mathematically eliminated UNCP (33-9, 13-9 PBC) from the race for the 2011 Peach Belt Conference championship race, while also giving the Braves consecutive shutout losses for the first time since March 31, 2001 (0-3, 0-10 vs. North Florida). The victory marked the sixth-straight win for Francis Marion (32-10, 15-5) who has now posted triumphs in 16 of its last 18 ball games.
Jason Coker singled and doubled on four trips to the plate to pace the Braves who also got base hits from Keith Whitman, Alex Pearce and newcomer Chad Whitehead. Three different players recorded two hits apiece for the Patriots, including Buddy Sosnoskie who singled, tripled and drove in a pair of runs for the hosts on a 2-for-3 hitting line.
Brad Isom (7-3) turned in his shortest outing of the season for UNCP and saddled the loss after yielding seven runs (four earned) on four hits and as many walks in 1-1/3 innings from the hill. Corey Carver (1-1), the third of four pitchers on the day for the hosts, picked up the first win of his career as a Patriot after striking out two and yielding just a pair of hits in three innings of relief. Starter Phillip Mozingo struck out two and scattered two hits over three innings of work, but was not awarded a decision.
Preston Shuey gave the hosts a quick 1-0 lead with a two-out RBI single in the first, but Isom loaded the bases with eight-straight balls to the next two batters before allowing a RBI single to Tyler Boyd that padded the lead out to 2-0. An ill-timed fielding error on a fly ball to left field a short time later would clear the bases and help Francis Marion take a 5-0 lead into the second. Sosnoskie's two-run single with two outs in the second would pad the advantage out to 7-0.
The Braves booked leadoff doubles in both of the second and fourth innings but, on both occasions, the Francis Marion pitching staff sat down each of the next three batters. The Patriots capped a three-run fifth inning with consecutive two-out RBI singles by Brock McCallister and John Jones that capped the scoring on the day.
UNCP will look to salvage the weekend series on Monday afternoon when it engages with Francis Marion in a 3 p.m. contest at Cormell Field.