GREENVILLE, S.C. - Furman scored two runs in each of the seventh and eighth innings to overtake College of Charleston and pull out an 8-5 victory over the Cougars in Southern Conference action Saturday evening.
After a scoreless opening inning, Furman (11-20, 5-9 SoCon) put two runs on the board in the second frame. Paul Nitto led off with a single and advanced to second when Will Miller was hit by a pitch. J.B. Jenkins singled down the right-field line to score Nitto and move Miller to third. During the next at bat, Jenkins stole second and Miller came home during the pickoff attempt for an early 2-0 Paladin lead.
The Cougars (23-10, 8-6) got one run back in the top of the third, as a RBI groundout by senior SS Joey Bergman (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) scored sophomore RF Thomas Brittle (Cross, S.C./Berkeley) to cut the Furman lead in half. Furman plated two runs in the bottom of the inning, as Will Muzika, Dylan Cole and Nitto each singled, with Nitto's hit scoring Muzika from third for a 3-1 lead. Cole would later score on a throwing error by Knox as he attempted to complete a double play.
Charleston would cut the Furman lead to one with a pair of single runs in the fourth and sixth innings. After junior 2B Baker Knox (San Mateo, Fla./ Daytona Beach CC) walked, senior 1B Greg Blake (Westerly, R.I./Lake City CC) roped a 1-2 pitch for a RBI double down the right-field line to score Knox in the fourth. Blake picked up his second RBI of the game in the sixth, again doubling home Knox, who reached on a single up the middle and advanced to second on a failed pickoff attempt.
CofC took a 5-4 lead in the seventh, as junior C Rob Kral (Randolph, N.J./Randolph) ripped a 1-0 pitch over the fence in right field for a two-run home run, scoring Bergman, who walked in the at bat before. The Cougars, however, could not hold the lead as Furman scored two runs in each of the next two innings for the 8-5 victory.
Aaron Thompkins lined a RBI single up the middle in the bottom of the seventh to knot the game at 5-5 and the Paladins took the lead for good two batters later as Thompkins scored on a wild pitch by Charleston senior reliever Tom Schiller (Rochester, N.Y./Monroe CC). Furman added two insurance runs in the eighth, as Miller scored on a passed ball by Kral and Will Owens plated a run with a RBI single to left.
Schiller took the loss for the Cougars, allowing three runs, one earned, on three hits in two-thirds of an inning. Charleston senior RHP Kevin Decker (Washington, Ind./Seminole CC) tossed 6.1 innings, scattering six hits and allowing five runs, four earned. Decker added a season-high eight strikeouts and walked two in the no-decision. Blake finished the game with three hits and two RBI to the Cougars.
Jay Friedman earned the win in relief for Furman, giving up one hit in 1.1 innings. Stephen Gary picked up his first save of the season, getting Bergman to hit into a game-ending double play. Furman starter Kevin Gaid tossed six innings, allowing three runs on five hits with seven strikeouts. Muzika led the Paladins with three hits.
Charleston and Furman take the field for the final game of the series Sunday afternoon at Latham Stadium. First pitch is set for 1:00 p.m.