Patriot sluggers split in doubleheader, lose series


Junior center fielder Casey Clauss delivered the first of FMU’s two-out runs. Clauss has a season batting average of .342. He has scored 48 runs and had 29 RBIs.

Michael Hawkins, Contributing Writer

FMU defeated the Peach Belt Conference (PBC) rival University of North Georgia (UNG) Nighthawks with a 5-4 victory during the first game of the double-header on Saturday, April 18.

However, the Patriots fell short in the second game with a final score of 5-2.

Down 4-1 in the seventh inning of game one, junior center fielder Casey Clauss delivered the first of FMU’s two-out runs.  The Patriots were also aided by a UNG fielding error which allowed sophomore shortstop Zach Callahan to score on Clauss’ hit to bring the score to 4-3.

With 1,014 people packing the stands, senior reliever Jordy Santak retired the Nighthawks in the eighth, setting the table for FMU to seal the deal in the bottom of the frame.

Junior left fielder JD Crowe, senior utility player Matt Rubino and junior third baseman Randy Loew each hit a straight single, and eventually losing UNG pitcher Phillip Taylor was chased out of the game.  Senior catcher Nicholas McGee walked to force home the tying run, and senior right fielder Zac Lenns plated the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly.

Shortstop Connor Hoover paced UNG’s offense in game one with a 2-for-5 effort.  Rubino’s 2-for-4 output led FMU’s regulars.

In the second game, UNG gained an early 1-0 advantage over the Patriots.  But UNG starter Dylan Peppers and FMU starter Daniel Barfield settled in and quieted the offenses as neither team scored again until Loew’s RBI single tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth.

The Nighthawks claimed the lead in the following frame on a run-scoring single by second baseman Joey Cecere and an RBI sacrifice fly from Hoover.

UNG added a tally apiece in both the seventh and ninth innings while holding the FMU offense at bay.

After plating one run in the eighth on a bases-loaded walk by junior designated hitter Shuler Ward to pull the score to 4-2, the Patriots left the bases loaded and stranded two more runners in the ninth.

Barfield took the loss despite giving up just three UNG hits over seven innings with four strikeouts.

FMU moved to 25-16 overall and 13-12 in the PBC, while the conference-leading Nighthawks are now 30-12 and 20-7.

FMU baseball honored Rubino, Lenns, McGee and Santak, as well as Cody Dix, Chandler Smetana and Conner Wessel in Senior Day activities prior to the doubleheader.