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Furman Splits Saturday Twinbill With Elon: 5-4, 1-3

Paul Nitto vs. Michigan State, 2011
Paul Nitto vs. Michigan State, 2011

Game 1 Box Score:  Furman 5, Elon 4
Game 2 Box Score: Elon 3, Furman 1

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Paul Nitto doubled, homered, and drove in three runs and Ben Carlson delivered a strong performance in relief to lead Furman to a 5-4 victory over Elon in game one of Southern Conference baseball doubleheader Saturday afternoon at Latham Stadium.

In game two Elon starting pitcher Kyle Webb tossed a complete game four-hitter to help the Phoenix notch a 3-1 win and avoid the three-game series sweep at the hands of the Paladins.

The two games to one win by Furman (17-16, 7-8 SoCon), its third straight SoCon series victory, gave the Paladins their first series triumph over Elon (18-14, 11-6 SoCon) since 2004.

In Saturday's opener Elon executed a double steal of second and home in the first inning to take a 1-0 lead and made it 3-0 in the fourth on RBI singles by Quinn Bower and Jake Luce off Paladin starting pitcher Nate Smith.

The Paladins got to Phoenix starting pitcher Spencer Medick in their side of the fourth with a Nitto bases loaded, two-run double to left center field.  Will Muzika tallied the frame's third run when he slid into home ahed of the tag on a fielder's choice grounder off the bat of Chris OhmstedeJarrod Rickman followed with an RBI single to center that plated Nitto to give Furman a 4-3 lead.

After Elon tied it with a run in the fifth, Nitto put the Paladins up 5-4 with a two-out solo home run onto the grassy bank in left field in the bottom of the frame.

Ben Carlson came on in the sixth in relief of Smith and proceeded to retire 11 consecutive Phoenix batters, including three by strikeout, before yielding a two-out single in the ninth to Jake Luce.  At that point Paladin head coach Ron Smith turned the game over to freshman closer Elliott Warford, who retired Sebastian Gomez on a fly ball to end the game, clinch the series victory, and record his seventh save of the campaign.

Nitto's 2-for-3, three-RBI performance highlighted an eight-hit attack by the Paladins, who also got a pair of hits from Rickman.

Elon also finished with eight hits, with Luce, Alex Swim, and Joey Tomko collecting two hits apiece.

Smith (3-3) earned the win after working five innings and allowing four runs on seven hits.  He walked two and struck out six.

Medlick (0-2) was charged with the loss.  He surrendered five runs, four of which were earned, on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings.  He walked three and fanned six.

In the series finale Webb (3-2) checked Furman's bats on four hits and pitched out of a couple of jams to earn the doubleheader split.

Webb would get all the run support he would need in the second on Quinn Bower's two-out, two-run double to right center field off Paladin starting and losing pitcher Tyler Wood (3-5).

The Phoenix made it 3-0 on an Swim sacrifice fly in the fifth and then watched Webb effectively work his way out of trouble in the bottom of the frame.  After a walk, a single, and a wild pitch put runners on second and third with no outs for Furman, the junior right-hander rallied by getting Ohmstede on an infield pop, Rickman on a strikeout, and Hunter Burton on a groundout to end the inning.

The Paladins opened the sixth with a single and a walk, but saw that opportunity fizzle with a double play and groundout.

Furman finally got to Webb in the ninth.  Jake Jones drew a leadoff walk and beat a fielder's choice throw at second.  With two outs Nitto stroked a line drive off the left field fence to score Jones and give the Paladins runners at second and third.  Webb recovered, however, by inducing Ohmsteded to hit into a  game ending groundout to shortstop.

The Phoenix out-hit Furman 8-4 in game two but saw Alex Swim's 25-game hitting streak come to an end as the junior catcher went 0-for-3 with a sacfifice fly.

Nitto had two of the Paladins' four hits.

Webb walked three and struck out six en route to the win.

Wood yielded three runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings of work.  He walked three and struck out four.

Furman plays Clemson on Tuesday at Fluor Field in a 7:00 p.m. game

Furman Notes:

Furman played error free ball and the Paladin bullpen combined to throw 10 2/3 innings of scoreless, three-hit ball in the three-game Elon series.  Junior catcher Paul Nitto has hit .500 (12x24) and driven in 17 runs in the last seven games.