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Thursday SoCon baseball championship roundup
Courtesy: Southern Conference
Release: 05/23/2019
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UNCG's Zack Budzik
Courtesy: Todd Drexler

No. 5 Furman 9, No. 8 Western Carolina 7

GREENVILLE, S.C. – Fifth-seeded Furman smacked four home runs to hold on to eliminate No. 8 seed Western Carolina, 9-7, in Thursday’s first game of the Southern Conference Baseball Championship presented by Holston Gases at Fluor Field.

Furman (26-30) will face the loser of No. 6 ETSU/No. 2 Wofford on Friday at 7:30 p.m. Western Carolina sees its season come to a close with a 21-32 record.

After two scoreless innings of play, it was Furman who struck first in the top of the third. Banks Griffith hit a one-out double to left field to put himself in scoring position. Two batters later, David Webel homered to left field to drive in the first two runs of the game.

John Michael Boswell would hit a solo homer in the top of the fourth and Trent Alley would double to score Webel and Bret Huebner in the fifth to stretch the Paladins’ lead to 5-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth.

They would tack on one more at the top of the sixth before Western Carolina would attempt a rally in the bottom of the inning. Luke Robinson started things off by sending a triple to center, scoring Justice Bigbie, who had been hit by a pitch to lead off the frame. Later in the inning, Jalen Jones would reach first on a fielding error, advancing Justin Sparks, who had walked, to second and scoring Robinson. With two outs, Will Prater reached base on another Paladin fielding error, sending Sparks across home to make the score 6-3.

The Catamounts continued to stage a comeback in the seventh after Furman pitcher Nick Verbeke walked Robinson and gave up a single to Andrew Bullock to put runners on first and second with two outs. Sparks singled to drive in Bullock and Robinson, and after a Matthew Koehler single and Jones walk loaded the bases, Prater singled to drive in a pair, putting Western Carolina in front for the first time on the day, 7-6.

Furman would quickly regain the lead, as Jabari Richards hit a two-run homer in the eighth and Logan Taplett added a solo shot in the ninth to give the Paladins three more.

Furman’s Rob Hughes (5-1) earned the win after coming in to close down the game in the final 2 1/3 innings. Western Carolina Taylor Purus was tabbed with the loss, ending his season with a 5-5 record.

No. 7 VMI 2, No. 3 UNCG 4

GREENVILLE, S.C. – Zack Budzik sealed the deal for No. 3 seed UNCG with a two-run home run in the top of the ninth to help the Spartans eliminate No. 7 seed VMI 4-2, in Thursday’s second game of the Southern Conference Baseball Championship presented by Holston Gases at Fluor Field.

UNCG (34-19) will face the loser of No. 1 Samford/No. 4 Mercer on Friday at 3:30 p.m. VMI sees its season come to a close with a 17-41 record.

Austin Embler got it started early for the Spartans in the top of the first, drawing a one-out walk. Caleb Webster hit a single right up the middle to advance Embler to third and bring Josh Madole to the plate. Madole grounded out to second, but it was enough to send Embler home.

VMI put its first run on the board in the third inning with a Cody Warner single to right, scoring Jonathan Clines to make it even at 1. Warner’s second hit of the day in the fifth also resulted in an RBI as his single to left center brought home Ryan Hatten, who had reached base on a triple to center put the Keydets up 2-1.

From there it was all Spartans. In the top of the seventh, Embler hit a two-out single to left to score Budizk, who had reached on an error and stolen second earlier to put himself in scoring position. Heading into the ninth tied at 2, VMI starter Jacob Menders gave up a two-run home run to Budzik in the top half to give the Spartans the 4-2 lead and win.

The Keydets recorded two runs on 10 hits with one error and 14 left on base. The Spartans recorded four runs on six hits with one error and nine left on base.

UNCG’s Chad Sykes (6-3) earned the win after coming in to close out the game in the final 3 innings, while Menders was tabbed with the loss, ending his season with a 5-5 record.  

The SoCon Baseball Championship presented by Holston Gases continues Thursday with two more games.  

May 21 (Tuesday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
(Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 1: #8 Western Carolina 7, #9 The Citadel 3              

May 22 (Wednesday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
 (Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 2: #1 Samford 5, #8 Western Carolina 4 (10 innings)
Game 3: #4 Mercer 11, #5 Furman 2
Game 4: #6 ETSU 4, #3 UNCG 2
Game 5: #2 Wofford 12, #7 VMI 7

May 23 (Thursday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
 (Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 6: #5 Furman 9, #8 Western Carolina 7                 

Game 7: #3 UNCG 4, #7 VMI 2                                      
Game 8: #1 Samford vs. #4 Mercer                                 4 p.m.
Game 9: #6 ETSU vs. #2 Wofford                                    7:30 p.m. 

May 24 (Friday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
 (Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 10: #3 UNCG vs. Loser Game 8                            3:30 p.m.

Game 11: #5 Furman vs. Loser Game 9                           7 p.m. 

May 25 (Saturday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
 (Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)

Game 12: Winner Game 8 vs. Winner Game 9                 12 p.m.
Game 13: Winner Game 10 vs. Winner Game 11              3:30 p.m.
Game 14: Winner Game 13 vs. Loser Game 12                7 p.m. 

May 26 (Sunday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (ESPN+)
 (Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 15: Winner Game 12 vs. Winner Game 14              12 p.m.

^Game 16: Winner Game 15 vs. Loser Game 15              40 minutes after Game 15 

^ if necessary

                                                                                           

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