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Warford, Paladins Terminate No. 1 Seed Appalachian State, 13-4

Elliott Warford
Elliott Warford

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Elliott Warford threw eight strong innings and received strong, early offensive support from his teammates as No. 8 seed Furman terminated No. 1 seed Appalachian State, 13-4, in a Southern Conference Tournament elimination game Friday evening at Fluor Field.

Furman (28-30) will now face No. 4 seed Samford at 1:00 p.m. Friday, needing a victory to avoid being bounced from the tournament.

"They (ASU) had beaten us seven straight, so it was good for us to put some runs on the board early," said Furman head coach Ron Smith.  "I can't give Elliott Warford enough credit.  He's a real competitor, which showed tonight, and we played good defense behind him.  I was also pleased with our approach at the plate.  We had some really productive at bats."

The win marked the second time the Paladins had eliminated a No. 1 seed from SoCon Tournament play, having first accomplished the trick in 2002 versus The Citadel, and it was the fourth occasion Furman had sent Appalachian State packing from tournament play.

Warford (6-0), a 6-foot-1 right-hander from Ponte Vedra, Fla. who was named to the SoCon All-Freshman Team on Tuesday, gave up five hits and three runs in the first inning before regaining his composure to blank Appalachian State in six of the next seven frames, yielding only an unearned run in the seventh.  He ended up allowing 10 hits but struck out a season high eight Mountaineers and did not walk a batter.  The eight innings also represented his longest outing of the season.

Appalachian State touched up Warford for five hits in the first inning to grab a 3-0 lead, but the Paladins wasted no time in answering, striking for seven runs on six hits in their first at bat.  Mountaineer starter Rob Marcello (6-4) lasted only a third of an inning and was chased after Hunter Burton's single through the left side scored Will Miller to give Furman a 4-3 lead.

Chris Ohmstede collected his first of four hits and three RBI with a single off Marcello's replacement, Jamie Nunn, to score Taylor Johnson to make it 5-3.

Jake Jones completed the outburst with his second hit of the inning, a two-run single to right field, that drove in Ohmstede and Burton for a 7-3 advantage.

The Paladins continued the onslaught with two runs in the second and two more in the third for an 11-3 lead, and at that point settled in behind Warford, who in making only his third start of the season, checked ASU's bats through the eighth.  After throwing 53 pitches in the first two innings, he tossed 75 over the final six frames.

Furman, which pounded Mountaineer pitching for 17 hits, was paced at the plate by Ohmstede, who went 4-for-4 with two doubles and three RBI.  Jones and Burton both recorded 3-for-5 performances, and Nitto had a pair of hits and drove in two runs.