­­­­Sandifer’s no-hitter leads Patriots past Winston-Salem Rams 13-0

Tim Laurent, Sports Writer

One walk and one Patriot error gave the Rams from Winston-Salem State their only two base runners as the Patriots used masterful pitching and heavy hitting to defeat them 13-0 on Saturday, Feb 19.

The game was the first ever meeting between the Patriots and the Rams.

Sophomore pitcher Don Sandifer started the game on the mound for the Patriots, and proceeded to strike 14 Ram hitters en route to the FMU victory.

Not only did Sandifer strike out 14 hitters, he also did not allow a hit. The no-hitter is only the tenth in FMU’s history, and only the seventh nine-inning no-hitter in the history of the Peach Belt Conference. It is the first since 2008.

“You set goals coming here, actually one of my goals was to throw a no-hitter sometime before I left here,” Sandifer said. “It feels pretty good. Usually if somebody gives me about three or four runs I feel like we have a good chance to win the game.”

The Patriot bats were able to give Sandifer quite a bit more than three or four runs. Senior first-baseman Preston Shuey began the scoring for the Patriots in the bottom of the first inning with a two-run homerun. The Patriots would score one more run in the bottom of the second, three in the fifth, one more in the sixth and seventh each, and then five in the bottom of the eighth inning on a pinch-hit grand-slam homerun by senior Brooks Arnette.

After the game, head coach Art Inabinet talked about his decision to put in Arnette to pinch hit.

“We wanted to get Brooks an at-bat, he got a hold of it, the wind helped it a little bit, and it got out of here!” Inabinet said.

Freshman third-baseman Michael Wilson was two for five in the game with an RBI and a run scored.

“It’s definitely great to have a pitcher like Don who can go out there and throw his best stuff, that’s what you get with Don,” Wilson said. “He made it easy for us.”

Sandifer discussed the atmosphere around the dugout during the no-htiter.

“Nobody said a word, I felt like I was the only one that knew what was going on,” Sandifer said.

The win was the fourth straight for the Patriots, and brought their record to six and three. FMU recorded 18 hits, and six different players had at least two hits.

Inabinet had a lot of praise for his team, especially Sandifer.

“This was the best team game we’ve played all year; offense, defense, pitching, everything was really good,” Inabinet said. “We were at our best today. Don’s performance was an absolute masterpiece. He was in control from the beginning to the end. Don is a fierce competitor. He throws strikes, he changes speeds, he locates really well. He’s a polished pitcher and he’ll win a lot of games here at Francis Marion. The sky’s the limit for him. We’re playing a lot better. Our team chemistry is a lot better. We’re coming together and improving every day, and that’s one of our goals; to get better everyday.”

Due to their performances, Sandifer and Wilson were named Pitcher of the Week and Freshman of the Week, respectively, by the Peach Belt Conference.

The Patriots are now nationally ranked, and they have a home stretch coming up in mid-March that will feature contests against Clarion University and their first conference games, which will be against Armstrong Atlantic University and a rematch against Pfeiffer University.