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Furman Defeats Miami RedHawks, 8-6, In First Pitch Invitational

Will Muzika had two hits
Will Muzika had two hits

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Furman's bullpen combined for 6 1/3 innings of three-hit, one-run ball, allowing the Paladins to rally past Miami University, 8-6, in First Pitch Invitational baseball action Saturday afternoon at Fluor Field.

Miami chased Furman starting pitcher Nate Smith with three runs in the top of the third inning to tie the game at 5-5, but Paladin relievers Jacques de Gruy, Anthony Buonopane, Matt Solter, and Elliott Warford combined to calm the RedHawks' offense the rest of the way.

Miami took a 6-5 lead in the fourth before the Paladins answered with two in the fifth.  Will Muzika scored on a wild pitch to tie the game, and Paul Nitto put Furman up 7-6, scoring on a fielder's choice ground out off the bat of Hunter Burton after brother Heath Burton's slide into second base broke up a potential double play.

The Paladins made it 8-6 in the seventh on a bases loaded Will Owens walk that forced in Andrew Cadger.

de Gruy, who came on in the third for Smith to get the final out, allowed a run in 1 1/3 innings of work.  Buonopane followed with two innings of one-hit, shutout ball, and Matt Solter then struck out two in 1 2/3 frames of no-hit ball.  Elliott Warford got the call in the eighth to get the final out and then pitched around a leadoff single in the Miami ninth to nail down the victory for Furman and notch his first collegiate save.

Muzika paced Furman's 12-hit attack by going 4-for-5 and scoring a pair of runs.  Nitto went 3-for-4 with two RBI, and Harrison Farmer had two hits in four at bats.

Miami took advantage of Smith's wildness in the first inning, combining a hit with three walks and a hit  batsman to take a 2-0 lead.

The Paladins answered with three runs in their first at bat on a Muzika RBI double and Nitto's two-run single to center field off RedHawks starting and losing pitcher Mac Thoreson (0-2).

Hunter Burton's triple to deep center field in the second drove home Heath Burton, and he later scored on a Zach Greenwell groundout to give the Paladins a 5-2 advantage.

Miami tied it with three in the third, chasing Smith who surrendered five runs on six hits in just 2 2/3 innings.  He walked three and struck out three.

Thoreson pitched into the fifth but was also ineffective, allowing seven runs on eight hits and four walks while striking out two.

Buonopane (1-0) was credited with the win for Furman, which improved to 3-4 with the win.  Miami fell to 2-4.