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Furman Eighth Inning Rally Douses Elon, 9-7

Hunter Burton
Hunter Burton
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GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Hunter Burton's two-out, three-run triple keyed a six-run eighth inning rally that powered Furman to a 9-7 victory over Elon in Southern Conference baseball action Sunday afternoon at Latham Stadium.

Burton's decisive eighth inning hit, coupled with four solid innings of relief pitching by Billy Greenfield and Alex Abrams, gave Furman (22-28, 10-13 SoCon) the three-game series sweep over Elon (26-25, 12-15 SoCon) heading into the final week of the regular season.

The series win was the third straight for the Paladins against the Phoenix, who made their final trip to Greenville as a member of the Southern Conference.

Furman, which trailed 7-3 after Elon pushed across a run in the top of the eighth, opened its big frame with a double to left field by Carter Grote and Greg Harrison triple that bounced off the glove of Blaine Bower as he stumbled on the warning track before colliding with the fence.

After a Chris Ohmstede infield single, Alex Abrams walked to load the bases, and Jordan Simpson singled through the left side to make it a 7-5 game.  A Jake Jones groundout drove home Ohmstede to get Furman to within a run, and after a walk again loaded the bases, Burton laced a one-ball, one-strike offering by Phoenix reliever Ryan Pennell into the right center field gap to clear the bases and give the Paladins a 9-7 lead.

Abrams (6-1), the beneficiary of the six-run rally, retired Elon in order in the ninth to nail down the victory.  He allowed a run on two hits over three innings and struck out two.

Elon grabbed a 2-0 lead in the third inning, taking advantage of a two-out fielding error by Burton for Blaine Bower's second home run in consecutive games — a two-run shot to left field off Paladin starter Tyler Wood.

The Phoenix led 3-1 after four and added three more in the fifth to take a 6-1 lead following Casey Jones' two-out, three-run double that bounced in front of diving Paladin left fielder Carter Grote.

Furman began its comeback by scoring two runs in the sixth on a Harrison RBI single and Jarrod Rickman sacrifice fly.

Elon starting pitcher Jake Stalzer worked 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on just three hits.  He walked three and fanned five.

Wood surrendered six runs, four earned, on five hits over fie innings.  He walked two and fanned seven.  Paladin pitching notched 11 striketouts in the contest.

Harrison (2-for-3, 2 RBI, run) and Simpson (2-for-4, RBI, run) had two hits apiece to pace Furman's nine-hit attack.  Grote, meanwhile, doubled, walked twice, and scored three runs.  Burton's triple, his second of the series, was the 13th of his career and moved him into second place alone on Furman's career ledger.

Furman, which went 4-0 for the week, plays host to Clemson this Tuesday at Fluor Field in a 7:00 p.m. contest.

Furman will play at Appalachian State in its final SoCon regular season series beginning on Thursday.

The SoCon Tournament is set for May 20-25 at Charleston's Joseph P. Riley Park.