FMU beats UNCP, ending Braves’ 16-game win streak

Staff report

			
				                                Dixon

Dixon

PEMBROKE – Will Hardee’s two-run homer with one out in the top of the seventh inning completed a five-run comeback effort for visiting Francis Marion and the Patriots overcame a season-high six errors to top the 16th-ranked UNC Pembroke baseball team, 8-7, in Monday’s series finale at Sammy Cox Field.

The setback snapped a school record 16-game win streak for the Braves (24-6, 20-4 PBC) who had not tasted defeat since a road loss to Wingate on March 10. The triumph put an end to a three-game skid for the Patriots (14-14, 12-14) who dropped both ends of a series-opening doubleheader with the Braves on Sunday.

The Braves registered four hits in the second inning and capitalized on three defensive errors to tack up six unearned runs and lug a healthy 6-1 lead into the third. Bobby Dixon delivered the big blow in the frame with a two-run single to right field that capped the scoring in the inning.

Francis Marion put runners at the corners with its first two at-bats in the seventh to chase reliever Branden Kunz, but the Patriots were still able to do some damage after that. Tanner Wakefield hit a sacrifice fly in the next at-bat to trim the deficit back to one run, and Will Hardee hit a 0-and-1 offering from closer River Ryan over the fence in right field.

Bobby Dixon had two hits and two RBIs for the Braves and Gage Hammonds had two hits and an RBI. Trevor Clemons had a hit and an RBI.

Ryan took his first loss of the season (3-1).

Hardee finished with three hits and three RBIs for the Patriots and Wakefield had two hits, including a double, and two RBIs.

Reece Kleinhelter, who earned the win (2-1), pitched six innings in relief, allowing an earned run with three strikeouts.

The Braves will continue a seven-game home stand on Saturday and Sunday when they bunker down for a pivotal Peach Belt Conference series with 24th-ranked North Georgia (24-9, 22-8 PBC) at Sammy Cox Field. The squads will open the weekend with a noon doubleheader on Saturday.