Division II Francis Marion shocks No. 9 Gamecocks

Division II Francis Marion shocked the two-time defending national champion South Carolina Gamecocks 5-4 on Wednesday night in Florence.

A three-run third inning and a two-run seventh inning was enough for Francis Marion, who knocked off ninth ranked South Carolina 5-4 on Wednesday evening in the first game ever played in brand-new Cormell Field at Sparrow Stadium.

The Patriots, currently ranked No. 20 in Collegiate Baseball’s Division II poll, improve to 27-13 while the loss drops South Carolina to 24-10 for the season.

With Carolina trailing 5-3 entering the top of the ninth, the Gamecocks looked to rally as Grayson Greiner drew a one-out walk followed by a single by LB Dantzler to give the Gamecocks a pair of runners on the corners.

Pinch hitter Kyle Martin would drive in Greiner with a RBI groundout. With pinch runner Patrick Harrington on second base in scoring position, pinch hitter Sean Sullivan hit a liner to right field that was collected by FMU’s Jarrod Reed to seal the victory for the Patriots.

Francis Marion starter Matt Broderick picked up the win and is now 6-1 on the year. He worked five innings and allowed two runs on four hits with one walk and three strikeouts. Francis Marion reliever Jeffrey Stoner allowed one run on two hits in 1.1 innings with one walk and two strikeouts for his second save. South Carolina starter Adam Westmoreland suffered the loss and is now 2-1 on the year. He allowed three runs on five hits in 2.2 innings with no walks and one strikeout.

Francis Marion grabbed a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning on the back of four consecutive two-out hits and a wild pitch. Michael Wilson got it started as he singled to right-center followed by a bunt for a base hit by Tyler Boyd. Tyler Hibbs drove in the first run with a RBI single to the gap in left-center with Buddy Sosnoskie adding a RBI single as well. Hibbs eventually scored the third run on a wild pitch issued by Gamecock reliever Patrick Sullivan.

South Carolina answered in the top of the fourth inning on Christian Walker’s seventh home run of the season. Walker blasted a 1-0 pitch from Broderick over the wall in left-center to cut Carolina’s deficit to two runs. The Gamecocks crept closer in the fifth with another run as Dantzler drew a one-out walk and after a balk moved him into scoring position, he would score on Dante Rosenberg’s RBI base hit up the middle.

With the Gamecocks trailing by a run, Francis Marion got some insurance in the seventh inning. With two outs and a runner on first base, the Patriots loaded the bases on walks to Hibbs and Sosnoskie. That set the stage for Stephen Tarkenton, who knocked a RBI base hit up the middle to score a pair of runners.

Despite a 5-2 deficit, South Carolina looked to mount a rally in the eighth inning as pinch hitter Michael Roth drew a walk. With one out, Evan Marzilli laced a single to the gap in left-center.

On the play, pinch runner TJ Costen got caught up between second and third base and would be tagged out for the second out of the frame. After Adam Matthews walked, Walker drove in his second run of the night with a single up the middle scoring Marzilli. With runners on the corners, Stoner worked out of the jam with a strikeout against Joey Pankake ending Carolina’s threat.

Francis Marion had nine hits with the Gamecocks ending the evening with seven. Walker was 3-for-4- with a run scored and two RBI to lead South Carolina at the plate. He now has 215 career hits and is tied for 17th all-time in Carolina history with Reese Havens (2006-07-08). Wilson, Tarkenton and Reed all had two hits apiece to lead FMU.

South Carolina returns home for a three-game SEC series this weekend against Mississippi State at Carolina Stadium. First pitch for the opener on Friday night is set for 7 p.m. Saturday’s contest is scheduled for 4 p.m. with Sunday’s series finale at 1:30 p.m.

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