Patriots open new stadium vs. national champs
FLORENCE, SC – The 20th-ranked Francis Marion University baseball squad will open its brand-new Cormell Field at Sparrow Stadium on Wednesday (April 11) with a non-conference match-up with the two-time defending NCAA Division I national champion University of South Carolina Gamecocks. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.
All tickets have been sold out for weeks. Stadium gates will open at 5 p.m.
Francis Marion has won 14 of its last 18 contests to up its record to 26-13. The Patriots are also ranked 23rd in the most recent D2 Baseball poll and 15th in the College Baseball Lineup poll. South Carolina – ranked ninth in the latest USA TODAY/ESPN Coaches poll, 10th in the Baseball America poll, and 18th in the Collegiate Baseball poll – owns a 23-9 mark heading into a Tuesday night game against The Citadel.
Dr. Eddie Floyd, chairman of the Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation and the Carolina’s Hospital Systems Board and a member of the Board of Trustees for USC, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
The last time FMU faced a Division I opponent was a March 29, 2007, match-up with Brown University – a contest the Patriots won 7-3. Brown is the only Division I opponent Francis Marion has faced since the 1991 campaign. Prior to that, the Patriots’ last win over a Division I opponent was a 6-1 win over Coastal Carolina on April 4, 1989.
Senior left-hander Matt Broderick is the probable starter for Francis Marion. Broderick owns a 5-1 record with a 2.14 earned run average. He ranks fifth in Division II for fewest walks allowed per nine innings as he has issued only five bases-on-balls in 54.2 innings.
As a team the Patriots ranked fifth nationally in total hits second in fewest walks surrender per nine innings, and eighth in sacrifice bunts.
Junior right fielder Jarrod Reed and junior second baseman Tyler Hibbs lead FMU with .374 averages. Senior center fielder Buddy Sosnoskie has recorded 10 multi-hit games in the last 11 contests to raise his average to .361 while also pacing the Patriots with 36 runs batted in. Junior Tyler Boyd has also upped his season average to .333 with a 10-game hitting streak.
South Carolina leads the all-time series with FMU 12-2, but this will be the first meeting between the two programs since 1987. That season, the Gamecocks won 10-2 in Florence and 9-3 in Columbia.
FMU’s previous facility, “old” Cormell Field was official dedicated on March 5, 1974, against the Gamecocks. USC catcher Drew Choate homered and drove in two runs as USC prevailed 5-3. The Gamecocks scored three times in the eighth inning to overcome a 3-2 Francis Marion lead.
In 1979, Francis Marion second baseman Mike Wilson (whose son is now the Patriots’ starting third baseman) singled to lead off the top of the eighth inning in a 3-3 game. He stole second base, moved to third on a fly out, and stole home to give the Patriots a 4-3 win. Wilson was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and three stolen bases. Junior righty Bernie Bastian got the win for Francis Marion, while senior right-hander Tim Evans earned a save as he stranded Gamecock runners at first and third in the ninth inning.
In 1981, Francis Marion beat the Gamecocks 10-6 as centerfielder Mark Grossnickle went 2-for-6 with two runs scored, a homer, and two RBIs and shortstop Timmy Barrineau was 2-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs. Francis Marion second baseman Greg Whitlow was 4-for-5 with a double and left fielder Jimmy Miles was 4-for-6 with a double and an RBI as the Patriots pounded out 17 hits and never trailed after scoring three times in the top of the first frame. Right-hander Mike Grow got the pitching win.