March 5, 2012

Saints Rally Late but Fall in Walk-Off Fashion to Francis Marion

Contact David Beall,

FLORENCE, SC – Late rallies was the story of the day on Monday afternoon and it was Francis Marion who had the last laugh as they scored a pair of runs in the ninth to walk off with a 7-6 over 15th-ranked North Georgia at Cormell Field.

The Saints fall to 10-5 overall with the series loss and 3-3 in league action, while the Patriots bounce back after suffering a sweep last weekend and improve to 12-8 overall and 4-5 in the Peach Belt Conference. 

The Saints appeared to be down and out heading to the ninth inning as they faced a 5-1 deficit. After a strikeout opened the inning, the floodgates opened for North Georgia as they strung together four of their seven hits on the day to get right back in the game.

Travis Naraine started the rally with a walk, and Dustin Carpenter and Andrew Gordon followed with back-to-back doubles to plate a pair and pull the Saints to within two, making it 5-3. 

Matthew Black followed and made it three straight doubles when he guided a liner inside the right field line, sending Gordon racing home and putting the tying run in scoring position.

A single and a walk loaded the bases for Derek Hooper who stepped to the plate and sent a chopper to shortstop, but after Michael Wilson stepped on second for the force out, he fired wildly to first, allowing two runs to score and giving the Saints their first lead of the day at 6-5. 

After the Saints erased a four-run deficit in the ninth, the Patriots had their own dramatics planned in the bottom of the frame, as a pair of hits fueled a two-run inning and walk-off win for Francis Marion. Reggie Weatherford brought home the first run of the inning with a single through the right side, and on the ensuing at-bat a passed ball sent Jarrod Reed racing home to secure the 7-6 win for the Patriots.

Jordan Erisman (1-1) suffered the loss for the Saints in relief as the senior got out of a jam in the eighth, but was charged with both runs in the ninth, one of which was earned. Taylor Keinat got the start for North Georgia and lasted 5.2 innings, giving up four runs on 10 hits, while striking out three. 

Jarrott Hooks (3-0) picked up the win as he faced just one batter in the ninth, but finally shut down the Saints' rally. Not to be overlooked was the performance of Spencer Jordan who lasted 8.1 innings and added seven strikeouts before North Georgia finally came alive in the ninth.

The Saints will look to rebound this week as they play host to Truett-McConnell on Wednesday evening at Bob Stein Stadium. First pitch is slated for 6:00 p.m.