FLORENCE, S.C. – After completing a 4-0 week, Francis Marion University moved up eight spots to No. 16 in this week’s Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s NCAA Division II Top 30 poll, released on Monday, while FMU right-handed pitcher Jeffrey Stoner was named the Peach Belt Conference Freshman of the Week. It marks the third time this season a Patriot has earned that first-year player award.
The Patriots are 20-8 overall and second in the PBC’s East Division standings with a 6-3 mark.
After a weekend series in Florida, Francis Marion returns to the friendly confines of Cormell Field this week to host Barton College on Wednesday (March 23) at 3 p.m. The Patriots will then resume Peach Belt play this weekend with a three-game series against Augusta State University. The series will start with a single game on Saturday at 3 p.m. and conclude with a doubleheader on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Admission to home games is $6 for adults and $4 for students with FMU students being admitted free with a valid identification card.
Stoner made one impressive relief appearance last week and then a quality start in the weekend Peach Belt series. The Martinez, Ga., native was 2-0 with a 1.29 earned run average in 14 innings. He recorded 10 strikeouts while walking only one batter. He came in against Pfeiffer University in the first inning and pitched 8.2 scoreless innings as the Patriots rallied to win. He retired nine batters in a row after taking the mound, eventually allowed only three singles, and struck out six. This past Sunday, he earned the win in a 4-2 conference victory at Flagler College. He went 5.1 innings, giving up the two runs and striking out four.
For the week he held batters to a .157 average.
This season, Stoner is 4-0 with a 2.43 ERA – 10th best in the PBC. Opponents are hitting only .191 against him and right-handers are below .160.
This week’s national ranking means the Patriots have appeared in 100 of the past 108 national polls dating back to the 2005 season. Francis Marion was ranked 15th in the 2011 pre-season poll, dropped out of the first two rankings, but returned to the poll and has been 24th, 17th, 13th, and 24th (last week).
Emporia State University (15-0) retains the No. 1 spot for a second week in a roll, and altogether five Peach Belt squads are ranked among the Top 30 programs.