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Furman downs ETSU to reach SoCon title game
Courtesy: Southern Conference
Release: 05/27/2017
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G13: No. 7 seed ETSU 16, No. 6 Samford 6 (8 innings)

GREENVILLE, S.C. – ETSU shortstop Chris Cook went 3-for-4 with a home run and five RBIs as the seventh-seeded Bucs continued their run through the Southern Conference Baseball Championship presented by Holston Gases with a 16-6 win in eight innings over No. 6 seed Samford at Fluor Field on Saturday.

With the win, the Bucs (30-28) clinched their first winning record since the 2013 season. ETSU moves on to face No. 4 seed Furman in Saturday's nightcap, scheduled to begin at 7:50 p.m., with a spot in Sunday's noon final against No. 3 seed UNCG on the line.

Samford, which eliminated No. 2 seed Western Carolina and No. 1 seed Mercer in consecutive days at the tournament, sees its season end at 33-26 overall.

ETSU rode three big innings to the lopsided win. The big blows came off the bats of Cook and Aaron Maher, who each had three-run homers. Cook's came in a five-run fourth and cleared the Green Monster in left, while Maher's was a 401-foot blast to right that made it 13-5 in the bottom of the sixth.

The Bucs also scored four times in the third, getting a two-run double from Jammer Strickland and an RBI fielder's choice from Cook before seeing a run come home on one of Samford's four errors on the day.

Up 14-6 in the eighth inning, ETSU put the 10-run mercy rule into effect when Cullen Smith came home on a bases-loaded walk and Christian Bailey scored on a wild pitch.

The game was close in the early going. RBI singles from Kevin Williams Jr. and Troy Dixon put Samford ahead 2-1 in the third before ETSU notched its four-run frame. The Bulldogs got back within a run with two more in the fourth on Jordan Fucci's two-run triple, but the Bucs blew the game open with their five-run bottom half.

The teams combined for 27 hits and 23 runners left on base. ETSU drew 13 walks, matching a tournament record.

Bailey joined Cook with three hits for the Bucs, while Strickland and Ethan Rice had two hits each. Rice matched Maher with three RBIs.

For Samford, Austin Edens was 3-for-5 with two runs and an RBI and Troy Dixon was 3-for-4. T.J. Dixon and Ayrton Schafer had two hits each.

Logan Gentry (3-1) picked up the win after 2 2/3 inning of work. He allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits and a walk. Connor Radcliff, the second of seven Samford hurlers, fell to 2-3 after allowing two runs on two walks in 1/3 of an inning.

 

G14: No. 4 seed Furman 8, No. 7 seed ETSU 6

GREENVILLE, S.C. – Fourth-seeded Furman used a four-run seventh inning to turn a two-deficit into a two-run lead and went on to an 8-6 win over No. 7 seed ETSU on Saturday to advance to Sunday's title game of the Southern Conference Championship presented by Holston Gases at Fluor Field.

The Paladins (32-27) will take on No. 3 seed UNCG in Sunday's title tilt at noon on ESPN3. Furman, which will be playing in its fifth title game and first since 2005, will need to beat the Spartans twice to win its third title. The Paladins won in 1991 and 2005.

ETSU, which turned in its first winning season since 2013, sees its season end at 30-29.

The contest was tied at 3 heading to the seventh, when ETSU scored a pair of unearned runs on an RBI double from Aaron Maher and an RBI single from all-conference catcher Hagen Owenby to make it 5-3.

Furman took its first lead of the game in the bottom half of the inning, sending eight batters to the plate to seize control of the contest. Jabari Richards tied things up with a two-run single up the middle, and two pitching changes later, he scored on a wild pitch. Senior catcher Cameron Whitehead continued the onslaught with an RBI double to left to make it 7-5.

ETSU got a run back the following inning on Jammer Strickland's RBI single, but Furman restored its two-run cushion in the bottom of the frame on another RBI single from Richards.

The always-dangerous Bucs, who had posted two ninth-inning rallies in the tournament already, got their leadoff hitter aboard in the ninth when Chris Cook singled up the middle, but Billy Greenfield retired hot-hitting Maher and Owenby on fly outs and struck out Christian Bailey to end the contest, securing his third save of the season.

ETSU drew first blood in the contest in the second inning when Strickland was picked off of first on the wheel play but engaged the Paladins in a rundown while Cullen Smith scampered home from third.

Furman pulled even in the third on Sky Overton's RBI groundout, but ETSU reclaimed the lead with two runs in the fifth on an RBI double from Maher and a Furman error.

The Paladins scored runs in each of the next two innings, getting Overton's RBI single in the fifth and a Sims Griffith RBI groundout in the sixth. Furman missed a chance for more in the fifth when Bret Huebner was called out at the plate attempting to score on Richards' fielder's choice bunt. The play was the second in the contest that was reviewed and upheld.

Jake Crawford gave Furman the start it needed, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits and a walk in five innings. Heath Hawkins (3-3) picked up the win with two innings of relief in which he allowed three runs (one earned), and Greenfield worked two scoreless innings to close things out.

The loss went to Connor Bartow (2-2) for ETSU. The Bucs' third pitcher of the evening was charged with three runs on two hits and a walk in an inning of work.

Overton, Richards and Huebner finished with two hits apiece for Furman. Overton is hitting .588 (10-for-17) in four tournament games since moving into the leadoff spot.

Cook, Maher, Owenby and Strickland had two hits each for ETSU, which was vying to reach its first SoCon title game ever.

May 23 (Tuesday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
(Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 1: #9 VMI 8, #8 The Citadel 0

May 24 (Wednesday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
(Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 2: #4 Furman 13, #5 Wofford 3 (7 innings)
Game 3: #1 Mercer 11, #9 VMI 6
Game 4: #7 ETSU 8, #2 Western Carolina 6

May 25 (Thursday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
(Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 5: #3 UNCG 6, #6 Samford 3
Game 6: #9 VMI 6, #5 Wofford 5 (10 innings)
Game 7: #6 Samford 6, #2 Western Carolina 1
Game 8: #4 Furman 6, #1 Mercer 1

May 26 (Friday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
(Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 9: #3 UNCG 6, #7 ETSU 4
Game 10: #6 Samford 5, #1 Mercer 4
Game 11: #7 ETSU 12, #9 VMI 11

May 27 (Saturday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (SDN)
(Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 12: #3 UNCG 12, #4 Furman 8
Game 13: #7 ETSU 16, #6 Samford 6 (8 innings)
Game 14: #4 Furman 8, #7 ETSU 6

May 28 (Sunday)
SoCon Championship presented by Holston Gases (ESPN3)
(Fluor Field; Greenville, S.C.)
Game 15: #3 UNCG vs. #4 Furman 12 p.m.
^Game 16: Winner Game 15 vs. Loser Game 15 40 minutes after Game 15

^ if necessary

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