By Forest Stulting, Sports Editor
Since the Dayton series, the Furman Paladins baseball team has gone 4-9. However, the Paladins have not been jousted from their saddle. Four of the team’s nine losses came against teams ranked in the top 30 nationally, highlighted by a walk-off win against in-state rival and nationally-ranked College of Charleston.
After a mid-week 11-3 loss to USC-Upstate, the Paladins hosted a three-game series against Patriot League member Holy Cross.
In its first game, Furman beat the Crusaders 5-2 behind strong pitching performances from a host of Paladins. Sophomore Will Gaddis pitched six innings, allowing two earned runs while walking his first batter of the year and striking out five. The combination of senior Steven Fondu and juniors Will Dvorak, Nolan Mullens and Billy Greenfield shut the door by allowing no runs, four hits and striking out four over the final three frames.
The second game Furman won with a 7-4 decision, including four runs in the fourth inning and five RBI combined between freshman outfielder Jabari Richards and sophomore infielder Sims Griffith. Junior Matthew Quarles earned his second victory of the season, as he pitched six innings, giving up two earned runs while striking out four.
The Paladins dropped the final game of the series to Holy Cross 10-7, as Furman’s late inning comeback was not enough to earn the sweep.
In a mid-week matchup against UNC-Asheville, the Paladins found their late inning magic as Richards hit a two-run walk-off bomb to left-center field propelling the Paladins to an 8-6 win.
The following day, Furman travelled to Columbia to face in-state rival South Carolina. After giving up five Gamecock runs in the first three innings, the Paladins did not allow another South Carolina run the rest of the way behind stellar relief work from senior left-hander, Harry Norman, who pitched five innings of shutout ball while only giving up three hits and striking out three.
The Paladins received two RBI each from senior infielders Jordan Simpson and Matt Towarnicky, but it was not enough as Furman lost 5-4.
Furman then travelled to nationally-ranked Tulane in New Orleans, La. The Green Wave’s bats were too much for Paladin pitching, as they were swept by scores of 11-6, 10-6 and 8-0.
The Paladins quickly bounced back, beating in-state rival College of Charleston 9-7 with another walk-off clout, this time from junior outfielder Carter Grote.
In its last series before conference play starts, former SoCon member Davidson swept Furman 15-4, 4-3 and 4-3.
The Paladins will travel to Gardner-Webb (March 22) before hosting Samford (March 24-26) at Latham Stadium.