NEWBERRY – Francis Marion came into Sunday’s game riding a 10-game winning streak, the best start to a season in school history.
But Newberry took the lead in the second inning and never looked back in an 8-3 win over one of the nation’s hottest teams.
The Wolves (4-7) took advantage of a Francis Marion (10-1) defensive miscue in the second frame to score a pair of runs to take the lead for good after the teams traded two-out RBI’s in the first inning.
A Jeff Sneed single, a sacrifice bunt, and a walk put two on with one out for nine-hole hitter Chase Coker, who made his first start of the season in left field. Coker placed a sacrifice bunt in front of the mound to the pitcher’s right that Patriots’ starter Austin Hawley fielded. The throw to first was off target and skipped down the right field line, allowing both runs to score and Coker to stand on second.
Newberry was far from done, adding single runs in the next two innings to build a 5-1 advantage heading into the late innings. Newberry put the leadoff man aboard in its final turn at the plate, but he was erased one pitch later on a double play ball to the Francis Marion shortstop.
With the bases empty and two out, Sneed singled to left field before Cody Ezzell worked a nine-pitch walk. Robert Kosch also reached via a base on balls to load the bases for late-innings defensive replacement Colin Santiago. The freshman left fielder was the first to face submarine-throwing right-hander Zach Callahan, who came to the mound from the shortstop position, and made the most of his opportunity. Santiago laced a hard-hit double down the right field line to clear the bases and stretch the lead to seven runs.
Santiago was one of seven Wolves to record a hit and led all players with three RBI’s. Francis Marion also had seven players with a hit and equaled Newberry 8-8 in the hits column, but left eight runners stranded and worked just four free passes during the contest.
Kosch was 1-for-2 but reached twice via free passes and scored three runs. Sneed went 2-for-3 with a walk and a pair of runs scored.
Freshman Josh Stempihar earned his first collegiate win, shutting down the Patriots’ offense over six innings by allowing a run on five hits while striking out five. He settled in after Francis Marion got on the board in the first inning, at one point retiring 11 of 12 batters he faced. Charlie Fessler worked a perfect seventh before Tomas Sorcia, Jr. and Tyler Fuhr collaborated for the final two innings.
The Wolves travel to nonconference foe Pfeiffer Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. before beginning a four-game series with Goldey-Beacom on Friday at 5:00 p.m. at the Smith Road Complex.