Furman Defeats ETSU, 8-6 to Reach SoCon Championship Game

GREENVILLE, S.C. (SoCon) – Fourth-seeded Furman used a four-run seventh inning to turn a two-deficit into a two-run lead and went on to an 8-6 win over No. 7 seed ETSU on Saturday to advance to Sunday’s title game of the Southern Conference Championship presented by Holston Gases at Fluor Field.

The Paladins (32-27) will take on No. 3 seed UNCG in Sunday’s title tilt at noon on ESPN3. Furman, which will be playing in its fifth title game and first since 2005, will need to beat the Spartans twice to win its third title. The Paladins won in 1991 and 2005.

ETSU, which turned in its first winning season since 2013, sees its season end at 30-29.

The contest was tied at 3 heading to the seventh, when ETSU scored a pair of unearned runs on an RBI double from Aaron Maher and an RBI single from all-conference catcher Hagen Owenby to make it 5-3.

Furman took its first lead of the game in the bottom half of the inning, sending eight batters to the plate to seize control of the contest. Jabari Richards tied things up with a two-run single up the middle, and two pitching changes later, he scored on a wild pitch. Senior catcher Cameron Whitehead continued the onslaught with an RBI double to left to make it 7-5.

ETSU got a run back the following inning on Jammer Strickland’s RBI single, but Furman restored its two-run cushion in the bottom of the frame on another RBI single from Richards.

The always-dangerous Bucs, who had posted two ninth-inning rallies in the tournament already, got their leadoff hitter aboard in the ninth when Chris Cook singled up the middle, but Billy Greenfield retired hot-hitting Maher and Owenby on fly outs and struck out Christian Bailey to end the contest, securing his third save of the season.

ETSU drew first blood in the contest in the second inning when Strickland was picked off of first on the wheel play but engaged the Paladins in a rundown while Cullen Smith scampered home from third.

Furman pulled even in the third on Sky Overton’s RBI groundout, but ETSU reclaimed the lead with two runs in the fifth on an RBI double from Maher and a Furman error.

The Paladins scored runs in each of the next two innings, getting Overton’s RBI single in the fifth and a Sims Griffith RBI groundout in the sixth. Furman missed a chance for more in the fifth when Bret Huebner was called out at the plate attempting to score on Richards’ fielder’s choice bunt. The play was the second in the contest that was reviewed and upheld.

Jake Crawford gave Furman the start it needed, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits and a walk in five innings. Heath Hawkins (3-3) picked up the win with two innings of relief in which he allowed three runs (one earned), and Greenfield worked two scoreless innings to close things out.

The loss went to Connor Bartow (2-2) for ETSU. The Bucs’ third pitcher of the evening was charged with three runs on two hits and a walk in an inning of work.

Overton, Richards and Huebner finished with two hits apiece for Furman. Overton is hitting .588 (10-for-17) in four tournament games since moving into the leadoff spot.

Cook, Maher, Owenby and Strickland had two hits each for ETSU, which was vying to reach its first SoCon title game ever.

May 23 (Tuesday)

SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)

(Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)

Game 1: #9 VMI 8, #8 The Citadel 0

May 24 (Wednesday)

SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)

(Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)

Game 2: #4 Furman 13, #5 Wofford 3 (7 innings)

Game 3: #1 Mercer 11, #9 VMI 6

Game 4: #7 ETSU 8, #2 Western Carolina 6

May 25 (Thursday)

SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)

(Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)

Game 5: #3 UNCG 6, #6 Samford 3

Game 6: #9 VMI 6, #5 Wofford 5 (10 innings)

Game 7: #6 Samford 6, #2 Western Carolina 1

Game 8: #4 Furman 6, #1 Mercer 1

May 26 (Friday)

SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)

(Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)

Game 9: #3 UNCG 6, #7 ETSU 4

Game 10: #6 Samford 5, #1 Mercer 4

Game 11: #7 ETSU 12, #9 VMI 11

May 27 (Saturday)

SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)

  (Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)

Game 12: #3 UNCG 12, #4 Furman 8

Game 13: #7 ETSU 16, #6 Samford 6 (8 innings)

Game 14: #4 Furman 8, #7 ETSU 6

May 28 (Sunday)

SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (ESPN3)

(Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)

Game 15: #3 UNCG vs. #4 Furman                                12 p.m.

^Game 16: Winner Game 15 vs. Loser Game 15             40 minutes after Game 15

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