No. 8 Patriots Even Weekend Series With UNCP
PEMBROKE – Visiting and eighth-ranked Francis Marion used a pair of UNCP miscues to plate a trio of unearned runs in the top of the 14th inning, and then held off a last-gasp rally by the Braves in the bottom of the frame, to post a series-tying 8-6 win over the hosts in the nightcap of a series-opening doubleheader on Saturday at Sammy Cox Field.
Tom Porricelli and Jason Coker each posted 2-for-6 nights at the plate to pace a 10-hit attack for UNCP (29-12, 13-10 PBC) who was held to just four base knocks through the first seven innings of the contest. Barrett Kleinknecht hit his 10th home run of the season on a 3-for-7 performance for Francis Marion (34-10, 13-7) who also got three-hit showings from Alex Lee and Josh Biggers. Trent Knight homered for the Patriots as well.
Rudy Brown (3-3) struck out six and scattered five hits across five innings of relief work, but saddled the tough-luck loss for the Braves after allowing three unearned runs in the 14th inning. FMU closer Brandon Forshee (2-0) struck out four and allowed just four hits and one earned run in five innings of relief to grab the win for the visitors, while second baseman-turned-closer Josh Biggers registered his second save of the season by working one hitless inning.
Biggers provided the first run of the game and gave Francis Marion an early lead with a RBI ground out in the second, but UNCP answered with a 3-run third inning that was highlighted on run-scoring knocks by both Coker and Seth Kivett. The Patriots took a 4-3 lead on a run-scoring double by Kleinknecht and a two-run homer by Knight in the fifth, and then pushed their lead out to 5-3 on Kleinknecht's solo homer in the seventh.
Having been limited to just four hits through the first seven innings of the contest, the Braves got a pair of key safeties in the eighth, including a game-tying, two-run single by Mickens with two outs.
A scoreless chess match for the next five innings, Francis Marion got a single from Kleinknecht to lead off the 14th inning, and scored the go-ahead run moments later on an ill-timed throwing error by Brown. The damage appeared to be minimal after Brown sat down the next two Patriots in order, but a second throwing error following a routine grounder led to two more insurance runs for the visitors.
Mangum sent Forshee's first offering in the bottom of the frame over the wall in left field to bring UNCP to within a pair of runs, and the Braves put two runners into scoring position following Aaron Parnell's sacrifice bunt three batters later, but Biggers retired Porricelli on a fly ball to shallow centerfield, before inducing Kivett to hit into a game-ending ground out.
The PBC Eastern Division rivals will close out their weekend set on Sunday in a 1 p.m. match-up at Sammy Cox Field.