FLORENCE, S.C. — Two-run singles by sophomore designated hitter Austin Moore and junior third baseman Mickey Skole backed solid relief pitching by senior right-hander Reece Kleinhelter as Francis Marion University defeated USC Aiken 6-2, Saturday in Peach Belt Conference baseball action.
After dropping a pair of tough decisions in Friday’s doubleheader, Francis Marion led from start-to-finish on Saturday and improves to 11-9 overall and evens its PBC mark at 9-9. USCA falls to 10-11, both overall and in the Peach Belt.
FMU will play a non-conference game at Barton College on Tuesday at 2 p.m., before returning home to entertain Flagler College for a three-game series next weekend.
Francis Marion scored three times in the bottom of the first, the eighth time in the last nine conference games that the Patriots have scored in their initial at bat. For the season, FMU has outscored its opponents 31-15 in the first frame.
Moore, a South Florence product, stroked a two-run single back up the middle to put FMU on top 2-0. Junior second baseman Tanner Wakefield followed with a run-scoring single through the left side. Moore collected two hits and a walk during the game, while Wakefield finished 2-for-3 and extended his streak of safely reaching base to 14 contests. He ranks among the top-10 in the PBC for on-base percentage, now at .500.
FMU senior Todd Mattox, making his first start of 2021 at shortstop, also had two hits and scored a run. He has safely reached base in all 20 games this year and in 28 straight dating back to last season.
The Pacers trimmed the margin to 3-1 with a solo homer by right fielder Jackson Hannon in the fourth. FMU senior righty Bailey Wendel started and went the first four innings, with Kleinhelter (1-1) pitching the final five frames. Both pitchers had identical lines with four hits and one run allowed. Kleinhelter fanned seven and did not issue a walk.
The Patriots added three insurance runs in the sixth. One run scored on a fielding error and the others on a two-out, two-run single up the middle by Skole.
Hannon’s sacrifice fly in the eighth accounted for the other Pacer tally. USCA starter Blake Seigler (0-2) was the losing pitcher.
FMU 5, GSW 0: FMU captured straight-set wins (in order) by freshman Camryn Cassetori at No.5 (6-2, 6-3), freshman Nargiza Yakhyaeva at No.6 (6-4, 6-3), sophomore Hermon Mikael at No.1 (6-2, 6-2), freshman Viktoria Leth at No.2 (6-2, 6-3), and sophomore Gabriel Karatantcheva at No.4 (6-2, 7-5).
Leth improves to 10-1 in singles play in 2021, while Hermon picked up her eighth victory of the season.