Francis Marion stuns Gamecocks
Patriots open new facility with 5-4 win against in-state foe
FLORENCE, S.C. -- Twentieth-ranked Francis Marion plated all its runs with two outs and the Patriots held on for a 5-4 win against ninth-ranked and two-time defending Division I champion South Carolina, Wednesday evening at the opening of the new Cormell Field at Sparrow Stadium.
Francis Marion improves to 27-13 and avenges in a way an earlier christening loss against USC (24-10). The Gamecocks rallied for a 5-3 win on March 5, 1974, at the official dedication of the Patriots' former facility, Cormell Field.
Wednesday, FMU sophomore right-hander Jeffrey Stoner induced a sharp line-out to right field by USC pinch-hitter Sean Sullivan for the final out with the tying run on second base to send the capacity crowd of 1,755 into a frenzy.
Junior first baseman Stephen Tarkenton was 2-for-3 with a pair of runs batted in, while sophomore third baseman Michael Wilson and junior right fielder Jarrod Reed both collected a pair of hits.
Junior first baseman Christian Walker led South Carolina with a 3-for-4 night that included an RBI single and a mammoth 372-foot solo homer to left field.
Francis Marion broke up the scoreless contest with three runs in the bottom of the third. After South Carolina starter Adam Westmoreland (2-1) retired the first two batters of the inning, Wilson singled to left center. Senior outfielder Tyler Boyd extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a bunt single to the left of the mound.
Junior second baseman Tyler Hibbs plated the first run at the new stadium with an RBI single to center field. Senior center fielder Buddy Sosnoskie followed with a run-scoring single to left center, and he took second on the unsuccessful throw to third. After a pitching change by USC, Hibbs scored the third run on a wild pitch by Patrick Sullivan.
Walker got one run back with his solo shot in the top of the fourth. An RBI single up the middle by catcher Dante Rosenberg drew South Carolina to within 3-2 in the fifth. However with the tying run at second base, FMU senior southpaw Matt Broderick (6-1) got the third out by covering first on a ball that eluded Tarkenton at first and was flagged down by Hibbs in the hole between first and second.
Broderick limited the Gamecocks to two runs on four hits in five frames, while striking out three and walking one. Junior Patriot righty Don Sandifer then held the Gamecocks at bay with two scoreless and hitless innings.
FMU added a pair of two-out runs in the seventh to go up 5-2. Wilson reached on a fielder's choice grounder, stole second, and moved to third after back-to-back walks to Hibbs and Sosnoskie. Tarkenton then poked an 0-1 pitch from Evan Beal up the middle to plate Wilson and Hibbs.
Walker's run-scoring single in the top of the eighth cut the margin to 5-3, but Stoner stranded two runners by fanning Joey Pankake. In the ninth, pinch hitter Kyle Martin got the Gamecocks to within 5-4 with an RBI groundout, but Stoner got the final out to earn his second save of 2012.
Francis Marion returns to Peach Belt Conference play this weekend with a key series at 30th-ranked Lander University, beginning with a single game on Saturday at 3 p.m.