Furman’s Quest to Win SoCon Tournament Comes Up Short

GREENVILLE, S.C. (SoCon Sports) – Ryne Sigmon homered twice Sunday and No. 3 seed UNCG scored nine runs in the seventh inning to put the mercy rule into effect, downing No. 4 seed Furman 13-1 in seven innings to claim its first-ever Southern Conference baseball tournament title. The Paladins downed the Spartans in Sunday’s first game of the SoCon Baseball Championship presented by Holston Gases at Fluor Field to force a second, winner-take-all title contest.

UNCG (35-22) reaches the NCAA Regionals for the first time since 1997 and will learn its postseason fate on Monday at noon, when the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship Selection Show airs on ESPN2. Regional sites will be announced Sunday evening on social media and the ESPN bottom line.

Furman, which went 22-8 over its last 30 games, finishes the season with a 33-28 record under first-year head coach Brett Harker and reached the title game for the first time since 2005.

Tripp Shelton, who won the Walt Nadzak Most Outstanding Player award, was 2-for-4 with four RBIs, while Michael Goss was 3-for-4 with four driven in.

Jake Lewis, making just his fourth start of the season and first since May 2, gave UNCG the pitching lift it needed, going 5 1/3 innings and allowing just one run on four hits and two walks. Dan Loats worked the final 1 2/3 innings for his second save of year, allowing just two hits and a walk.

UNCG’s potent offense, which entered the day fourth in the nation with a .326 team batting average, did the rest.

The Spartans enjoyed a 4-1 lead heading into the seventh but broke out for nine runs to blow open the tight game. Sigmon homered on the first pitch of the inning, and Shelton later added a two-run double. Goss had an RBI single and two runs scored on Austin Embler’s RBI groundout and a Furman error. Another Paladin error allowed the seventh run of the frame to score and Shelton capped the scoring with a two-run single to make it 13-1.

Furman made it interesting in the bottom half of the inning, loading the bases and threatening to claw back under the 10-run mercy-rule threshold, but Loats coaxed a groundout to first to end the contest and clinch the Spartans’ first title since joining the league in 1998. UNCG was in the title game for the third time and first since 2001.

UNCG jumped on Furman starter Hunter Baker early, with Goss tattooing a two-run home run off the building behind the Green Monster in the first inning and Sigmon launching his first homer of the day on the first pitch of his at-bat in the second inning.

The Spartans added another run in the third on a Goss RBI single before Furman scratched across its lone run of the game on Cameron Whitehead’s RBI single in the fourth.

Baker (1-2), making his first start since April 11, took the loss, allowing three runs on two hits and a walk in two innings of work. Seven different pitchers appeared in the contest for the Paladins, who downed UNCG 6-4 earlier Sunday to force the second championship game.

Zach Kuchmaner, a redshirt sophomore outfielder/first baseman for UNCG, earned the Pinnacle Award as the student-athlete with the highest GPA on the championship-winning team.

 

2017 Southern Conference Championship All-Tournament Team

SP – Grant Schuermann, Furman

SP – Josh Winder, VMI

RP – Jack Maynard, UNCG

C – Cameron Whitehead, Furman

1B – Michael Goss, UNCG

2B – Troy Dixon, Samford

SS – Tripp Shelton, UNCG

3B – Caleb Webster, UNCG

OF – Aaron Maher, ETSU

OF – Sky Overton, Furman

OF – Ben Spitznagel, UNCG

DH – Ayrton Schafer, Samford

 

Walt Nadzak Most Outstanding Player

Tripp Shelton, Jr., SS, UNCG

 

Pinnacle Award (highest GPA on championship-winning team)

Zach Kuchmaner, R-So., UNCG

 

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: #4 Furman 6, #3 UNCG 4

Game 16: #3 UNCG 13, #4 Furman 1 (7 innings)

 

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