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Late Elon Rally Clips Furman, 8-7

Will Miller vs. Clemson, 2011
Will Miller vs. Clemson, 2011

ELON, N.C. -- Sebastian Gomez scored on a wild pitch with two outs in the eighth inning to break a 7-7 tie and lift Elon past Furman, 8-7, in Southern Conference baseball action Thursday evening at Latham Park.

Gomez's game deciding run capped a four-run rally by Elon (35-19, 22-7 SoCon), which trailed 7-4 heading to the bottom of the eighth. Mitch Conner came on in the ninth and worked around a two-out single to keep Furman (23-30, 13-15 SoCon) in check, preserve the win, and record his eighth save of the season.

In the decisive eighth Harry Austin's two-run single off Paladin reliever Nate Smith made it a 7-6 game. Austin stole second and advanced to third on Gomez's single to right field before coming home tie to the game on a Neal Pritchard base hit. Smith recovered to get Alex Swim to hit into a double play, but Gomez, who moved to third on the twin killing, scored on a Smith offering that got past Paladin catcher Paul Nitto.

Elon's rally came after the Phoenix were retired in order in the sixth and seventh innings.

Leading 7-4, Furman blew a chance to add to its lead in the sixth after J.B. Jenkins led off with a double and Will Owens delivered a bunt single to put runners at first and third with no outs. Rob Fondu followed with a bunt squeeze back to Elon pitcher Jared Kernodle, who retired Jenkins in a run-down between third and home. After a walk loaded the bases, Reese Wade was retired on a pop fly and Paul Nitto on a fielder's choice grounder to end the inning.

The Paladins scored three runs in the fourth inning on an RBI single by Jenkins and two-run single by Wade to break a 4-4 deadlock.

Furman grabbed an early lead in the second against Elon starting pitcher Ken Ferrer. Back-to-back home runs from Wade and Nitto and a run-scoring single by Will Owens gave the Paladins a 3-0 advantage.

The Paladins led 4-1 before the Phoenix answered with their own three spot in the bottom of the third via a Pritchard solo home run and Scott Kirchner two-run single off Paladin starting pitcher Daniel Stallsmith.

Kernodle (7-1) earned the victory after working 4 1/3 inning in relief. He allowed four hits but no runs.

Smith (3-5) was charged with the loss. He allowed two runs on three hits after coming on in the eighth.

The Paladins, who posted a 14-12 advantage in hits, were paced at the plate by Jenkins, who went 3-for-5 with a double, RBI, and run scored. Wade tallied a 2-for-5 outing with three RBI, and Owens, Nitto, Miller, and Will Muzika also had two hits apiece for Furman.

Kirchner drove in pair of runs as part of a 3-for-4 performance to pace Elon.

The Paladins and Phoenix wrap up the series on Friday with a 1:30 p.m. game.