FLORENCE, S.C. – After a week that saw the Francis Marion University baseball team take a respite from playing to focus on final exams, the Patriots drop one position to ninth in this week’s Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s NCAA Division II Top 30 poll, released on Monday. FMU also learned its first-round opponent in next week’s Peach Belt Conference Tournament as the bracket was released by the PBC office on Monday afternoon.
Francis Marion has won 19 of its last 23 games, owns a 35-12 overall record, and captured the Peach Belt regular-season championship with an 18-6 league mark.
FMU will play its final regular-season contest on Wednesday when the Patriots travel to Erskine College for a 3 p.m. contest.
This week’s national ranking means the Patriots have appeared in 106 of the past 114 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, 24th, 16th, 16th, 15th, 12th, sixth, and eighth (last week).
The University of West Florida (42-6) and Grand Valley State University (39-3) are tied for the No. 1 position in this week’s poll, while five Peach Belt squads also appear in the new rankings.
For the first time, the Peach Belt will use the NCAA World Series bracket which creates two four-team brackets with a single championship game. The double-elimination bracket will feature four games a day for the first three days of the tournament (Sunday-Tuesday) with start times at 9 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 4 p.m., and 7:30 p.m. each day. The title game is slated for Thursday at 1 p.m. The double-elimination tournament will feature the top four teams in each of the PBC’s East and West divisions and will begin on Sunday (May 8) at historic Golden Park in Columbus, Ga.
Francis Marion is the top seed in the East Division and will play the fourth seed from the west, Augusta State University (21-28, 10-14) on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. FMU swept a three-game series from the Jaguars in Florence on the last weekend of March.
Columbus State University (32-15, 16-8) is the top seed from the West Division and will face the East’s No. 4 seed Lander University (28-22, 11-12) on Sunday at 4 p.m. The other two games on Sunday have the West’s second seed Georgia College (35-15, 15-9) playing the East’s third seed UNC Pembroke (38-10, 13-10) in the tournament opener at 9 a.m., and the East’s second seed Armstrong Atlantic State University (33-15, 14-10) facing the West’s third seed North Georgia College & State University (32-17, 10-14) at 7:30 p.m.
Depending on its result on Sunday, Francis Marion play at either 9 a.m. (if lose on Sunday) or 12:30 p.m. (win) on Monday. FMU’s side of the bracket includes the Georgia College/UNCP contest.
Francis Marion won the 2009 PBC Tournament.