GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Dax Roper's one-out single in the 12th inning scored Trent Alley from second base to give Furman a 4-3 victory over East Tennessee State in the opening game a Southern Conference baseball series Friday night at Latham Stadium.
The two teams will play a Saturday doubleheader beginning at 1:00 p.m.
Roper's walk-off hit, his third of the season, came after John Michael Boswell was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and advanced to second on a one-out wild pitch. Alley pinch-ran for Boswell and raced home with the game winning run after Roper laced a one-ball, one-strike offering from Buccaneer reliever Matthew Mercer (1-2) into the right center field gap.
Furman (12-21, 5-5 SoCon) was in position to win the contest due to strong relief work by Nik Verbeke, who came on the 10th inning after Rob Hughes struck out the Bucs' Cullen Smith to start the 10th. Verbeke (1-4) allowed three hits while recording three strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings of work. The Paladin senior right-hander struck out the side in the 11th and induced an inning ending double play in the 12th after ETSU loaded the bases with one out.
ETSU (23-10, 4-3 SoCon) grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning against Paladin starting pitcher John Michael Bertrand, plating the first run on a fielder's choice and the second after an errant throw to first base on a double play attempt.
Sterling Turmon cut the lead in half with his team leading eighth home run of the year, a solo shot over the center field wall in the fourth.
Furman went up 3-2 in the seventh when Bret Huebner smacked his first home run of the season — a two-run shot to left field.
The advantage didn't last long, however, as ETSU's Jake Lyle deposited a pitch from Paladin reliever Jordan Beatson over the left field wall with one out in the eighth to tie the game.
Eric Taylor got Furman out of the eighth by striking out the Bucs' Cade Gilbert to strand a runner at second base, and in the ninth Hughes came on for Taylor to fan Lyle for the final out with the bases loaded.
David Webel's 4-for-6 performance paced Furman's 12-hit attack.
ETSU also registered 12 hits behind three-hit performances by Lyle and Jake Beam.
Hunter Reid, Sports Information