GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Alex Abrams pitched six effective innings and used early run support to help Furman defeat UNCG, 6-4, in the finale of a Southern Conference baseball series Sunday afternoon at Latham Stadium.
The victory gave Furman (28-23, 14-16 SoCon) the series victory over UNCG (22-29, 9-18 SoCon) two games to one and secured a spot for the Paladins in this year's SoCon Tournament, which will be contested among the league's top eight teams from May 22-25 at Greenville's Fluor Field. Furman could finish anywhere from fifth to eighth in the standings depending on next week's conference series results.
Sunday's win over UNCG marked the Paladins' final SoCon game of the season. The 14 league victories topped last year's conference tally (13-17) and represented the most by a Paladin squad since 2008. Furman's current 28 wins matches last season's total (28-31).
Abrams (4-1), who began the season as a member of the bullpen before moving into the weekend rotation in mid-April, continued his strong late season performance by allowing four runs on six hits over six innings before departing with a 6-4 lead. He struck out five and did not walk a batter. The junior right-hander made only one costly mistake, yielding a three-run sixth inning home run to Tervor Edwards that pulled UNCG to within two runs, but the Charleston native recovered by retiring the next three Spartans to get out of the inning.
Ben Carlson came on in relief of Abrams to start the seventh and mowed down the first eight batters he faced until Cambric Moye singled with two outs in the ninth. Carlson responded by getting Zac MacAneney to fly out to end the game and notch his fourth save.
As was the case in Saturday's 13-7 victory, Furman jumped on UNCG pitching for early runs, striking for two in the first inning with a Greg Harrison two-run home run off of Spartan starting and losing pitcher Brennen James (1-1).
After UNCG scratched for a run in the top of the second, Furman tacked on three more in its second at bat via a Hunter Burton sacrifice fly and a two-run double to right center field by Will Muzika for a 5-1 lead.
Paul Nitto made it 6-1 in the third when his high fly ball to left field sailed over the fence for the 23rd home run of his career.
It remained 6-1 until the sixth when Christian Wolfe and TJ Spina stroked consecutive singles to lead off, and Edwards followed with a three run home run that just cleared the glove of Paladin center fielder Will Muzika at the fence.
That would do it for the scoring as Abrams and Carlson combined get the next 12 outs without allowing a run. UNCG's bullpen, meanwhile, gave the Spartans a chance as three relievers combined to limit Furman to just one run on five hits over the final six innings.
Taylor Johnson, who went 5-for-5 in Saturday's win, continued his hot streak by going 3-for-4 and scoring a run in Sunday's victory. Muzika, whose two-run second inning double marked the 250th hit of his Paladin career, went 2-for-4 with two RBI, and Paul Nitto and Chris Ohmstede both registered 2-for-4 performances at the plate, with Ohmstede doubling twice.
The Paladins finished with 11 hits.
Lloyd Enzor had two of UNCG's seven safeties.
Furman will play at Gardner-Webb on Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. before returning home to open a three-game seriesversus Dayton starting on Thursday.