Senior Jordan Smith matched a WCU school career record with his 53rd collegiate start on Sunday afternoon against Furman. (Photo by Mark Haskett)
April 13, 2014
Cullowhee, N.C. -
Furman used two early home runs and a strong, eight-inning pitching effort by Tyler Wood to take Sunday's rubber match over Western Carolina, 6-1, securing the Southern Conference series victory over the Catamounts at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium. The two Paladin pitchers limited the potent WCU offense to seven hits with just one for extra bases.
WCU (23-11, 9-3 SoCon) suffered its first conference series defeat since late March of 2013, halting a string of 10-consecutive series wins. All told, the Catamounts have victories in 25 of their last 29 league games including last year's 16-game win streak and the streak of eight-straight this spring.
Furman (13-23, 4-8 SoCon) won back-to-back games for the first time since defeating Maine and Stetson in tournament action in DeLand, Fla., back on Feb. 28 and March 1. It was the Paladins' first SoCon series win this season.
WCU senior Adam Martin reached four times on Sunday to lead the Catamounts, finishing 3-for-3 with a trio of singles and was plunked by a pitch for the ninth time this season - 30th in his career which ranks 12th in the program record books. Sophomore J.D. Long tallied the lone extra base hit for the home squad, legging out his first career triple on a ball flared down the right field line.
Junior Jacob Hoyle extended his current hitting streak to a career-long, 14-straight games with a first inning single into right field.. Sophomore Danny Bermudez has reached in a team-best 19-straight games after a pinch-hit single to center in the seventh inning.
Chris Ohmstede gave the Paladins a 2-0 lead in the first inning with his third homer of the series, going deep with two out in the top of the first inning. Jordan Simpson extended the lead one inning later with a lead-off homer to left center to make it 3-0, Furman.
Both teams lit the scoreboard in the fifth inning as the Paladins yet again rallied with two out. Greg Harrison, who served a one-game suspension on Saturday after being ejected on Friday night, singled through the left side before scoring on an error through the right side hit by Jake Jones.
The Catamounts answered in the bottom of the frame with Long's lead-off triple to put a runner in scoring position ahead of Bradley Strong. The Richlands, Va., native nearly split the opposite field gap in left center, but Carter Grote made a diving catch to take away extra bases, but allowing Long to score on the sacrifice fly. It was the only run WCU would manage to push across.
Strong was robbed of two hits on the day including a first inning home run that Jones pulled back over the right field fence and Grote's diving stab in the fifth.
Furman tacked on two additional insurance runs in the top of the eighth inning, getting a pinch hit, RBI walk by Jarrod Rickman and a RBI single up the middle by Heath Burton to provide the final tally.
Senior RHP Jordan Smith (5-3) suffered the defeat for Western Carolina, scattering 10 Furman hits in seven innings of work. The Liberty, N.C., product struck out five against two walks in what was his 53rd career start, matching Jack Kimel (1989-92) for the most in program history. Reliever Alex Barr - the fourth of five arms to throw for WCU - struck out two against a walk in an inning and a third out of the bullpen.
Wood (3-1) tossed eight solid innings to pick up the victory, holding the Catamounts to just the one run on seven hits. He pitched around a walk and a HBP with four strikeouts. Alex Abrams, who started the game as the designated hitter and went 1-for-4 with a run scored, tossed a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts in the non-save situation.
Ohmstede led four Paladin hitters with two-hit games with both he and Harrison hitting home runs in the win. Simpson and Jones also collected two-hits for Furman.
Western Carolina is scheduled to visit Winthrop on Tuesday evening in the back-end of a nonconference midweek home-and-home. First pitch from Rock Hill, S.C., is scheduled for 6:00 pm and will be broadcast on the Catamount Sports Network online at CatamountSports.com.