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May 10, 2007
Spartanburg, S.C. - Dylan Owen, the Peach Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year, recorded 14 strikeouts, leading third-seeded Francis Marion to a 4-2 victory over fourth-seeded USC Upstate in the first round of the Peach Belt Conference Tournament.
Francis Marion (36-16) advances to play fifth-seeded Armstrong Atlantic State University at 7:00 on Friday night, while Upstate (33-24) will face undefeated USC Aiken at 3:00 on Friday afternoon.
Francis Marion struck first in the opening round game when lead-off hitter Derek Kennamer reached on an infield single to short, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by the Spartans. Michael Ward drove in Kennamer with the game's first run two batters later, and the Patriots led 1-0 in the first inning.
The game remained that way until the bottom of the fifth inning when Francis Marion struck for two more runs to subsequently seal the victory for Owen (10-1). Senior rightfielder Nick Stewart led off the inning with a triple to left, sliding under the tag of third baseman Zach Waterbury to set the stage for the Patriots. After Ryan Hypke was hit by a pitch from Upstate starter Matt Branham (3-3), Andy Howes singled down the rightfield line to score Stewart and send Hypke to third. The final run of the inning was scored by Hypke on a sacrifice fly by Greg Phelps, and the Patriots led 3-0.
Upstate did not go quietly into the night, as they put two runs on the board in the top of the eighth inning, courtesy of a two-run single by Mike Colecchi. After a lead-off walk to John Caddell, the Spartans' Kyle Simpson legged out an infield single to third that sent Caddell to second with no outs in the inning. After a sacrifice bunt by Andrew Runion, Colecchi hit the 2-2 pitch up the middle for the only scoring of the night for Upstate.
"Any team could have won this baseball game," said Francis Marion head coach Art Inabinet. "We scored early and I think that helped relax us. It was just a real good game."
Francis Marion added a run in the bottom of the eighth inning for the final margin.
Zach Farry came on in the eighth inning to record his ninth save of the season for the Patriots, and seal the win for Owen.
Kennemer recorded three hits for the victors, while Stewart finished the night a perfect 2-for-2 with a double and a triple. Eric Guillen was the only Spartan to pick up multiple hits in the loss.
"Dylan Owen was the story of the game tonight," said Upstate head coach Matt Fincher. "He was outstanding. (Matt) Branham pitched a great game as well. It was just a good baseball game."