GREENVILLE, S.C. — Will Gaddis tossed six solid innings and Brandon Elmy homered and drove in four runs to power Furman past Dayton, 9-3, in the 2017 baseball season opener for both teams Friday afternoon at Latham Stadium.
The win marked a successful collegiate head coaching debut for Brett Harker, the Greenville native and former Paladin assistant coach who assumed the reins of the program in July.
“That was fun,” said Harker following the game. “Our parents and fans went a little LSU on us coming up on the porch afterwards. That was fun and a little crazy, and it’s something I’ll remember for a long time.
“Will (Gaddis) didn’t really have much. You look at the box score — six innings, four hits, one run. He didn’t have great control, but being Will he found a way to compete, and that’s the special player he is. He’s got some grit to him.”
Gaddis, the reigning Southern Conference Pitcher of the Year and preseason pick to retain the honor, allowed one run on four hits over six frames to improve to 7-0 at home over the last season-plus. The junior right-hander threw 59 strikes in his 83 pitches, struck out four, and walked two.
Elmy, a junior who suffered a season ending wrist injury on Apr. 13 last year, made his return to the lineup a memorable one, roping a two-out, two-run single in the first inning to stake Furman to a 3-0 lead, and later belting a two-run home run to left field in the eighth that gave the Paladins a 9-1 advantage.
Jake Crawford had two hits, scored two runs, and stroked an RBI double in the fifth. Sims Griffith also had a pair of hits and an RBI to highlight Furman’s nine-hit attack.
Elmy’s two-run single in the first helped the Paladins grab after two innings.
Dayton used three singles and a walk in the third to get on the board on a Robbie Doring sacrifice fly, but Gaddis escaped further damage by getting Adam Moreau on a ground out to third base to strand the bases loaded.
The Paladins made it 7-1 in the fifth, highlighted by Crawford’s double to right center field that scored Carter Grote from first base.
Emy’s two-run shot in the seventh came on the first pitch he saw from Flyer reliever R.J. Wagner.
Dayton starting pitcher A.J. Cline was charged with the loss after yielding five runs on four hits over four-plus innings.
The Flyers had eight hits, including two each by Nick Ryan and Connor Echols.
The two teams play game two of the series Saturday at 1:00 p.m.