April 5, 2013
Greenville, S.C. - Furman jumped out to an eight-run lead through the first two frames on Friday night in handing Western Carolina a 9-2 setback in the Southern Conference series opener at Latham Stadium.
The win halted a five-game losing skid in league play for Furman (18-11, 6-7 SoCon) while WCU dropped both its second-straight conference game and second overall.
Furman starter Nate Smith (4-1) kept the Catamount hitters off-balance, limiting the potent WCU lineup to just two runs on six hits, countering two walks with nine strikeouts. Drake Browne tossed the final two innings for the Paladins, striking out two.
Junior outfielder Julian Ridings collected two of WCU's six hits on the night, reaching three times with a 2-for-3 showing at the plate while also drawing a walk and stealing a base. Tyler White delivered the only runs in the loss, just missing a three-run home run with a two-RBI double off the fence in left center field in the eighth inning.
Freshman Danny Bermudez singled and senior Bryant Noteboom delivered a pinch-hit double for WCU, with Aaron Attaway singling and scoring in the eighth inning to reach safely in his 22nd-straight game.
Catamount starter Jeremy Null (3-2) took the loss, striking out seven Paladin batters against two walks and a hit batter in five and a third innings. Furman tagged the hard-throwing right-hander for nine runs - eight of which were earned - on 10 hits. Relievers Jon Nadale and Jacob Hoyle tossed the final two and two thirds of hitless, scoreless relief. Nadale was perfect through the five batters he faced while Hoyle worked around three walks, inducing one of WCU's two double-plays in the field.
The Paladins loaded the bases with two outs in the first inning when Chris Ohmstede homered over the fence in left center field for a grand slam, handing the home squad a four-run lead it would never relinquish.
In the second, Furman again plated four runs after opening the inning with three consecutive singles, the third by Will Muzika that drove in the game's fifth run. An infield error on a sacrifice bunt attempt loaded the bases for the Paladins when Taylor Johnson doubled to center to drive in two, benefiting from Ridings slipping at the warning track.
The final marker of the second inning scored on an error on a close play at the plate. Bermudez threw behind a runner at first base with Austin Neary smothering the close play at the bag. With the ball at the right corner of the infield, Hunter Burton tried to steal home, reaching successfully as the throw did not connect at home making it 8-0 Furman.
Johnson, who finished 3-for-5 with two doubles and a home run, capped Furman's scoring with a solo shot to left in the fourth inning.
Attaway opened the top of the eighth with a single through the right side before pinch hitter Luke Gragg was plunked by the first pitch of his at bat. White then blasted one to left center field with the ball just staying in as it bounced off the top of the wall and over the centerfielder's head. White cruised into second with his team-leading 12th double of the season and RBI's 28 and 29.
Game two of the three-game SoCon series is scheduled for 4:00 pm on Saturday afternoon. Fans can follow the game online with streaming audio from the Catamount Sports Network online at CatamountSports.com. Air time is 3:45 pm.