March 4, 2012

Saints Split Doubleheader with Francis Marion in PBC Action

Contact David Beall,

FLORENCE, SC – The 13th-ranked North Georgia baseball team broke out the bats in game one on Sunday afternoon, but 30th-ranked Francis Marion rebounded in the nightcap to split a Peach Belt Conference doubleheader at Cormell Field.

The Saints (10-4, 3-2) jumped out to an early lead in the opener and held on for a 13-6 victory, while the Patriots (11-8, 3-5) fought back in game two and evened the series with a 10-1 blowout. 

Game 1 (North Georgia 13, Francis Marion 6)

The North Georgia bats came alive in the opener, tagging Francis Marion pitching for 13 runs on 17 hits to jump out on top early. Andrew Gordon started things off in the second inning when he turned on a fastball and blasted a three-run home run that hit the top of the fence in left field and bounced over to give the Saints a 3-0 lead. 

Dustin Carpenter added to the lead in the third inning when he stepped to the plate with two outs and Terrell Jones standing on second. The junior promptly ripped a double over the third base bag to send Jones racing home and make it 4-0.

The bottom of the order came to life in the fifth inning, putting two runners on base before Eason Spivey skied a ball to left field that was lost in the sun, allowing Travis Naraine and Carpenter to trot home and give the Saints a 6-0 lead. 

After North Georgia starter Blake Hobby cruised through the first four innings, he ran into some trouble in the fifth frame when the Patriots' bats came alive, recording four singles and a triple to bring four runs home and cut the Saints' lead to just two. Brock McCallister had the big blow, a run-scoring triple to the gap in left center. Hobby would dig deep and strand him on third however, as he got Dalton Gress to strikeout on three pitches.

That would be all the offense Francis Marion would muster off one of the best pitchers in the league, as Hobby went 8.0 innings and tallied six strikeouts to pick up his third win of the season. 

The North Georgia offense continued to bring runs to the plate as the game went along, scoring five runs in the sixth inning and two more in the ninth to put the Patriots away.

Jacob Beauchamp came on in the ninth and gave up a pair of runs off a McCallister single to right field, but the freshman got the final out on a Luke Tollison strikeout to give the Saints a 13-6 win in game one of the doubleheader. 

Jones had a game-high four hits in the game, while Gordon tallied three base knocks and drove in three runs with his second-inning blast.

Francis Marion starter Don Sandifer (0-4) struggled all afternoon, lasting just 4.1 innings and giving up six earned runs on nine hits to stay winless on the year. 

Game 2 (Francis Marion 10, North Georgia 1)

The Saints had little to write home about in the nightcap as errors and mental mistakes handed the Patriots game two of the doubleheader. 

Francis Marion scored two runs in the first inning without the benefit of a hit as a leadoff walk came around to score on one of two errors in the frame. That would be the story of the night as the Patriots coaxed eight walks in the contest and forced head coach Tom Cantrell to go to the pen and use six different pitchers.

The biggest inning came in the seventh when Francis Marion scored six runs on just one hit to take a 10-0 lead. 

North Georgia scraped together a run in their last at bat when Carpenter legged out an infield single to send Eric Hicks home to score the Saints' only run of the contest.

Jesse Coxwell (3-1) suffered the loss for the Saints, lasting 3.0 innings and giving up three runs on two hits, while walking three and striking out three. 

Jeffrey Stoner (2-1) tossed a gem to pick up the win for the Patriots. He had a no-hitter until a two-out bunt single from Jordan Erisman in the sixth inning put the Saints into the hit column. Stoner allowed just one run on six hits, while striking out 11.

The Saints and Patriots will play the rubber game of the three-game series on Monday afternoon at Cormell Field. First pitch is slated for 1:00 p.m. as the Saints look to take their second straight series against a ranked opponent.