AIKEN, SC – The North Georgia baseball
team saw their bid for back-to-back PBC Tournament Championships
come up short Sunday evening in the title game, falling 4-1 to
Francis Marion University in a rematch of the 2008 championship
North Georgia had won 10 of their last 11 games coming into the title game, including eight straight at Roberto Hernandez stadium, but end the season at 34-24 overall. With the win, the Patriots (36-13-1) earn the Peach Belt's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament next week.
The Saints put a trio of players on the Peach Belt All-Tournament team as Chad Sage, Craig Brisson, and First-Team All-Conference Selection Andre Airich were all honored after the championship game for their play in the tournament.
The Patriots got on the board first in the bottom of the second as Keon Graves led off with a single. He then stole second and advance to third on a throwing error by NGCSU catcher Daniel Pettiti. He later scored on a sac fly from Tyler Boyd.
FMU added another run in the bottom of third. With two outs, Jared Barkdoll singled followed by a single from Jacob Wallace and a walk to Graves. Preston Shuey then sent a roller over to second that allowed Barkdoll to score on the fielder's choice. NGCSU starter James Wiley then ended the inning by getting Josh Biggers to ground out to second.
FMU starter Josh Edgin carried a no-hitter into the fifth, but gave up his first run to the Saints following three hits. Logan Sharrett collected the first single and moved to third on Nicholas Fryman's single to center. Edgin rallied with back-to-back strikeouts but Craig Brisson drove home Sharrett with an RBI single to right. Edgin then closed out the inning with a strikeout.
The Patriots put up two more runs in the sixth to open up a 4-1 lead. The first run was scored on a pair of bizarre errors. Shuey led off the innings with a fly ball to deep right that bounced in and out of the glove of Fryman, the Saint rightfielder. Shuey motored around second and Fryman attempted to throw him out at third and committed his second error of the play as the throw got away, allowing Shuey to circle the bases to score. Boyd later singled and scored the second run of the inning on Martin Gordon's double to left.
The two runs signaled the end of the night for Wiley (L, 1-5), who left after 5 1/3 and allowing four runs, two earned, on eight hits with three strikeouts. Nick White pitched 2.2 innings of two-hit relief for the Saints.
Edgin went seven full for the Patriots , allowing the one run on three hits with with nine strikeouts. Edgin, who was named to the All-Tournament team, was lifted to start the eighth for Barrett Kleinknecht, who set down the side in order in the eighth and struck out two in the ninth to pick up his third save in the three tournament games. Kleinknecht was named the tournament MVP.
Barkdoll went 4-for-4 and was the only Patriot to have more than one hit in the game. Likewise, Sharrett was the only Saint with more than one hit as he went 2-for-4 with a run scored.
“First off I want to congratulate Art Inabinet and Francis
Marion for winning the tournament, they played outstanding
throughout the tournament. And tonight was a little different than
the other games in the tournament, it became a bit of a pitching
match up. He (Edgin) was outstanding at locating his pitches,
didn’t walk anybody, we didn’t get a hit until the 4th
inning. He got strike outs when he needed to.”
“James Wiley hadn’t pitched in 6 weeks, he’d been hurt. I thought he did an outstanding job after that.”
“We just didn’t bang it around and get hits like we did in previous games, we scored 12 runs in the first two and only mustered 1 tonight. We made 4 errors and they made only one.”
“They (Francis Marion) deserve it, and I’m proud of our team, the way they came up here and performed. It could have been easy for them not to do that, but they did everything they could to get into the championship game.”