By Forest Stulting, Sports Editor
The Furman baseball team jumped out to a hot start in the first weekend of SoCon play against preseason favorites Samford March 24-26, taking two out of three to win the series.
In game one, the Paladins were led by sophomore pitcher Will Gaddis. Gaddis earned his third win of the season by pitching eight strong innings, allowing only two runs on five hits and two walks while striking out nine Bulldogs. Junior Nolan Mullen notched his second save of the season by closing out the ninth, giving up no hits while walking and striking out one.
At the plate the Paladins were paced by senior infielder Jordan Simpson who reached base three times. Simpson went 2-3 with two RBI and a walk. Junior catcher Cam Whitehead and sophomore outfielder Landon Kay both smacked solo home runs to propel the Paladins to a 4-2 victory.
Game two saw another strong Furman starting pitching performance, this time from junior Matthew Quarles. Quarles pitched seven innings of one-run ball, giving up four hits and striking out four to get his third win of the season.
The middle of the lineup came through for the Paladins to tally eight runs in the 8-5 game two win. All eight RBI came from spots 2-5 in the batting order.
Sophomore first baseman Brandon Elmy knocked in three RBI on three hits. Second baseman Sims Griffith and Simpson both drove in two and with Whitehead adding one.
Furman dropped the third game of the series with a 5-3 decision.
Samford hit a two-run home run in the top of the first and added one run in the second and two in the fifth.
A two-run home run by Whitehead and a solo shot from outfielder Sky Overton was not enough to defeat Samford pitcher Parker Curry as he held the Paladin bats in check for seven innings.
Before traveling to Johnson City, Tenn., the Paladins took a tough 9-7 loss at the paws of in-state rival Clemson.
Furman pitching allowed 13 walks and two hit batsmen in the loss. The Paladins out hit the Tigers 13-7.
Game one against ETSU saw another strong outing from Gaddis, who pitched seven innings and gave up three runs on six hits while striking out seven to earn his fourth win of the season.
Home runs from Whitehead, Elmy and Kay helped propel the Paladins to a 6-5 win.
In game two, Furman struggled against ETSU pitching earning only six hits on the day.
The Buccaneers broke the game open in the third by scoring four runs. ETSU added one in the fourth and seventh to complete the 6-3 win over the Paladins.
In the rubber game, pitching was at a premium as the teams combined for 22 runs.
But like most baseball games, there is usually one or two innings that will either lose or win you a ball game. In this case, the Paladins allowed seven ETSU runs in the third, and five runs in the seventh to drop the game 13-9.
The Paladins will host Gardner-Webb April 6 before travelling to Morgantown, W.Va. for a three game set against West Virginia April 8-10.