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FMU'S BASES LOADED WALK PROPELS PATRIOTS TO TITLE GAME
DAHLONEGA, GA – Fourth seeded Francis Marion University needed a late rally to stay alive at the NCAA Division II Southeast Dahlonega Regional Sunday afternoon at Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium.
The Patriots (37-14) trailed 4-2 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning but scored a pair of runs in the inning and then added on in the seventh to get past Carson Newman 5-4.
The Patriots will take on top-ranked North Georgia College at 6:35 in the championship round. A by the NGC will give the Saints the regional title and earn them a spot in the NCAA Super Regionals next weekend. If the Patriots win, it will force a second game, which will be played Sunday evening.
The game between FMU and Carson Newman was interrupted three times because of the weather, including one delay that lasted for more than an hour. But the Patriots found a way to win to stay alive and keep their regional title hopes breathing.
FMU’s Jessica Birchmeier carried her team in the must-win game, hitting a pair of two run home runs, including a blast to right-center in the bottom of the sixth inning to tie things up at 4-4.
After Michaela Wolf got the Eagles out in order in the top of the seventh, the Patriots found a way to push across the winning run in the bottom of the inning. Kat Beauvais started things with a single. Two outs later, Wolf singled and Birchmeier walked to load the bases. Cea Knox worked the count and managed to draw a walk to force home Ashley Jaramillo, who had reached on fielder’s choice earlier in the inning.
Carson Newman had a couple of opportunities to take control of the game in the first two innings but could not push a run. The Eagles loaded the bases in the first inning and had runners at second and third in the second, but Wolf managed to work her way out of trouble both times.
Carson Newman grabbed the lead in the fourth inning, thanks to a walk, an error and a sacrifice fly. Ashley Boyd led off the inning with a walk. Amber Hewitt, who pinch ran for Boyd, advanced to second on an error and third on a sacrifice bunt. Ay Lawrence took a 0-2 offering from Wolf and delivered a deep fly ball, scoring Hewitt.
The Patriots answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame. After Wolf singled to center, Birchmeier blasted the first of her two home runs over the fence just to the right of the 220-foot in straight away center field.
The Eagles reclaimed the lead in the top of the fifth, taking advantage of four errors by the Patriots. The Patriots competed a pair of errors on one play, allowing pinch runner Kim Whaley to score to make it 2-2. Later in the inning, following another error and a hit by Whitney Kee, Jessie Howard drove in a run with a single to left to give the Eagles a 3-2 lead. Kee scored the final run of the inning on a wild pitch by Wolf.
Birchmeier’s big game ended with two hits, two run and four RBI, while Beauvais and Wolf each had two hits, and Jessica Hogan and Destinea Schneider each added one.
Wolf (22-9) tossed a complete game, allowing two earned runs on nine hits and a pair of walks while striking out six.
Mary Shealy took the loss, dropping to 16-7 on the year. Shealy pitched 6.2 innings, allowing five runs on eight hits and five walks, while striking out two.
Howard had two of the Eagles’ nine hits and also drove in a run. Cassidy Skeen, Bri Shoemake, Sara Little, Whitney Durham, Leah Price and Kee all had one hit for the Eagles, who finished the year with a 37-12 record.