GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Taylor Johnson homered and drove in four runs to power Furman to a 12-1 victory over Davidson in the opening game of a Southern Conference baseball series at Latham Stadium Thursday evening.
With the win and UNC Greensboro's 11-6 loss to the College of Charleston on Thursday, Furman (24-29, 11-17 SoCon) clinches the No. 8 seed in next week's Southern Conference Tournament (May 23-27) at Fluor Field. The Paladins will play the No. 1 seed (TBD) next Wednesday at 5:00 p.m.
Johnson, a junior from Greer, doubled and scored in both the third and fifth innings, singled in the seventh, and belted his fifth home run of the season, a three-run job in the eighth inning, to highlight a 4-for-5 performance.
Will Muzika, making his first career start in left field and first start since injuring his elbow against The Citadel last Friday, also hit a three-run home run, scored three times, and stole two bases as part of 15-hit attack by the Paladins.
Freshman Jarrod Rickman drove the first pitch he saw from Davidson starting pitcher Henry Sisson over the left center field fence to give Furman a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
After the Wildcats tied it with a run in the third, Rickman struck again in the bottom of the frame with an RBI single to center that drove in Will Owens, who had drawn a one out walk and advanced to second on a balk. Two batters later Johnson laced the first of his two doubles down the left field line, and Muzika followed with a three-run blast to left center field that staked the Paladins to a 5-1 lead.
Muzika's RBI double in the fifth made it 6-1, and the Paladin junior raced home from third on Hunter Burton's high hop single off the plate to give Furman a 7-1 lead.
The Paladins added a run in the seventh and four more in the eighth on an RBI single by Will Miller and Johnson's towering three-run blast that landed well up on the hill beyond the left field fence.
The ample run support backed up a strong outing by Paladin starting and winning pitcher Bobby Lyne (6-5), who allowed a run on eight hits in six innings of work. He walked one and struck out seven.
Freshman Matt Solter allowed only one hit and struck out five over the final three innings to record his first career save.
Sisson (4-3) was charged with the loss after getting roughed up for seven runs on 10 hits over 5 1/3 innings. He walked four and fanned three.
Furman will honor its eight-member 2012 senior class in ceremonies prior to Thursday's doubleheader, which begins at 1:00 p.m.
Furman Notes: Furman has qualified for SoCon Tournament play each of the last eight year and 16 of the last 17 seasons, last missing it in 2004. With two hits in against Davidson on Thursday, senior Will Owens cracked Furman's career hits ledger with 223. Furman pitchers Bobby Lyne and Matt Solter combined to register 12 strikeouts, a season high for the Paladins. With his 4-for-5 performance against Davidson, Taylor Johnson has hit .403 (29x72) over his last 17 games. Johnson's two doubles upped his season total to 18, tying him for fifth most in Furman season history.