CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Taylor Johnson and Alex Abrams delivered two-out, RBI singles in the top of the 12th inning to break a tie game and give Furman an 8-6 victory over The Citadel in Southern Conference baseball action Sunday afternoon at Joseph P. Riley Park.
The victory enabled Furman (28-28, 10-17 SoCon) to avoid the sweep by The Citadel (24-28, 13-14 SoCon) and move a step closer to securing a bid to this year's eight-team SoCon Tournament, scheduled for May 23-27 at Fluor Field in Greenville's West End.
The Paladins are currently in eighth place, a game ahead of ninth place UNC Greensboro (9-18 SoCon) and two games up on 10th place Davidson (8-19 SoCon).
Furman will wrap up the league regular season with a three-game home series versus Davidson beginning on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at Latham Stadium. The Paladins' can secure eighth place with at least one victory over Davidson, coupled with one loss by UNC Greensboro in the Spartans' final regular season home series versus the College of Charleston. Two wins by Furman over Davidson and the Paladins also nail down eighth place. Furman holds the tiebreaker versus UNCG by virtue of its series win over the Spartans this season.
Davidson can finish eighth and qualify for the tournament by sweeping Furman and with UNCG losing two of three to the College of Charleston. Furman's Sunday win over The Citadel eliminated Wofford.
With the score tied 6-6 and with two outs in the 12th, Will Miller singled off Bulldog reliever Brett Tompkins and stole second. He then came around to score on Johnson's base hit to left field. Johnson, who took second on the throw home, scored on Abrams' third hit of the game, a line drive single into right center field that gave Furman an 8-6 lead.
Paladin reliever Elliott Warford (4-0) retired the Bulldogs in order in the bottom of the 12th to earn the victory and put a wrap on a clutch performance. The freshman right-hander, who came on the eighth, surrendered an unearned run in the bottom of the ninth that tied the game but recovered to work five solid innings, allowing only one hit and a walk. He fanned two.
Johnson and Abrams, who registered his first career start at first base, led Furman's 13-hit attack with three hits apiece while Miller and Jarrod Rickman collected two hits each.
Trailing 5-4 after eight innings, Furman rallied to score two in the ninth on the strength of Hunter Burton leadoff single and a pinch-hit double by Will Muzika. Jake Jones's sacrifice fly scored Burton to tie the game at 5-5, and with two outs Rickman's RBI double plated Muzika to give the Paladins a 6-5 lead.
The Citadel tied it in the bottom of the ninth after Nick Orvin singled, advanced to second on Warford's failed pickoff attempt, stole third, and scored on a double play grounder off the bat of Justin Mackert.
Furman, which entered the game having scored just one run in its previous 27 innings, wasted little time in grabbing the rare early lead by tallying three times in the first inning against Citadel starter Logan Cribb. A Rickman RBI single and two-run double by Abrams staked the Paladins to a 3-0 advantage.
The Paladins made it 4-0 with a run in the sixth, after which The Citadel answered with a Bo Thompson RBI single in the bottom of the inning to get on the board against Furman starter Tyler Wood.
Thompson then keyed a four-run Citadel seventh with a two-out, two-run double off Paladin reliever Matt Solter to give The Citadel a 5-4 lead, its first of the contest.
Wood, a sophomore right-hander, pitched effectively for the Paladins, allowing only one run on eight hits over six innings before departing with a 4-1 lead.
Furman's ninth inning rally came at the expense of Bulldog closer Ryan Hines, who surrendered two runs on three hits in 1 2/3 innings.
The loss was charged to Brett Tompkins (0-4), who worked pitched the 12th and was also tagged for a pair of runs on three hits.
Orvin and Mackert had three hits apiece in the Bulldogs' 16-hit attack.
Furman plays its final non-conference game of the season on Tuesday when it travels to Clemson for a 6:30 p.m. contest.
Senior Will Owens, Furman's regular left fielder over the last three seasons, earned the start at second base on Sunday, his first at the keystone position since 2009, his freshman campaign. He stepped in for Muzika, who was injured in Friday's series opener against the Bulldogs. Chris Ohmstede got the start for Muzika in Saturday's 3-1 loss. Starting in left field for Owens was Taylor Johnson.