AIKEN, S.C. – The Francis Marion Patriots erased a 6-2
deficit with seven unanswered runs, including a five-run sixth
inning, to eliminate the second-seeded USC Aiken Pacers from the
PBC Tournament 9-6. Ed Paul pitched 3.2 innings of one-hit relief
for the win which advances FMU to play on Sunday at noon against
either North Georgia or Columbus State, who meet on Saturday
USC Aiken started the game on fire with three runs in the top of the first off FMU starter David Walters who lasted only 1/3 of an inning before being relieved. Chad Jacobsen started the scoring with an RBI single to score Cody McMorris. Gary Owens then delivered with a bases-loaded single that brought in Jacobsen and Ryne Salmon.
Francis Marion answered a run in the second and third. In the second, Trent Knight hit a one-out triple to deep center and later scored on a single from Chris Honeycutt. The Patriots looked to be on the verge of a big inning, but it was snuffed out on as McMorris made a diving catch in center field on a ball hit by Keon Graves. McMorris was able to double up Honeycutt who had left first base. In the third, Justin Greene laced a single to center field that scored Ryan Hypke to cut the lead to 3-2.
USCA came back in the fourth with three runs off the bat of Jacobsen who took a 3-1 pitch from Cory Deering over the left-field wall for a three-run homer and a 6-2 USCA lead.
But that would be all the Pacers would get as the Pacers collected only three more hits the rest of the game off the Patriot bullpen. After giving up the homer, Deering allowed only two more hits as he pitched two innigs, making way for Ed Paul, who entered the game with one out in the sixth and the bases loaded. Paul got Jacobsen to strike out and Ken Raborn to fly out to left to get out of the jam. Paul (W, 4-3) allowed only one hit and struck out two as he closed out the game.
FMU roared back in the sixth with five runs. Josh Smith drove in two with a bases-loaded single while Keon Graves an Jared Barkdoll also had RBIs. The Pacers had a couple of chances to get out of the inning, but a missed tag at home plate and a fielding error, the only one of the game for USCA, kept the inning alive.
FMU added an insurance run in the eighth on a Preston Shuey RBI.
Dustin Tyra began the game on the mound for the Pacers and went 5.1 innings, allowing five runs on nine hits and one strikeout. Houston Taylor (L, 1-2) was tabbed with the loss as he did not record an out in giving up three runs on two hits.
Greene finished the day 2-for-4 with two RBIs for FMU as Josh Smith was 1-for-2 with two RBIs and a run scored. Ryan Hypke was 2-for4 with two runs scored while Shuey 2-for-5 with a run and an RBI.
Jacobsen went 2-for-5 with four runs driven in and two scored. Owens was 2-for-5 with two RBIs while Gary Asbill also collected two hits.
USC Aiken Head Coach Kenny Thomas
- Opening statements: "Next week is what counts, and that's the good thing. We got to play three games, and that should help us next week since we have had so much time off. We lived and died with poor defense all year long and we had the momentum and we let it get away."
- McMorris' diving catch in center field: "Great play, but it charged both teams up."
Francis Marion Head Coach Art Inabinet
- Opening Statement: "Game that could have gone either way."
- On McMorris' play: "I think it motivated our team. Anytime you take something negative and your team turns it into positive, its a good thing."
- On Ed Paul's pitching performance: "He is going to go out there and throw two breaking balls for strikes. If you're going to beat him, you have to beat him, he's not going to beat himself."
- On his two RBI single: "I wasn't trying to do to much. Coach always says put it in play and see what happens."
- On team falling behind early: "Our team just wanted to fight back."
- On his scoreless performace: "My role on this team is to just throw strikes. I just tried to keep our team in the game."