GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Furman's baseball team will look to extend its momentum into the final regular season series when it plays host to Mercer in a three-game set beginning on Thursday at Latham Stadium. First pitch is set for 6:00 p.m.
The Paladins (23-28, 11-10 SoCon) and Bears (28-24, 13-8 SoCon) are scheduled to play Friday at 1:00 p.m. and will wrap the series with a 1:00 p.m. Saturday contest that will include pre-game Senior Day recognition. All three games will be video live streamed via the SoCon Digital Network and audio streamed over Stretch Internet, TuneIn.com, and thru campus station WPLS 95.9 FM, with "The Voice of the Paladins" Dan Scott on the call.
Furman heads into the Mercer series having won five of its last six games, highlighted by a 7-4 victory over South Carolina last Wednesday in Columbia and series victory over Wofford in Spartanburg over the weekend. The Paladins, who are 11-5 in their last 16 games and have won three straight SoCon series, currently occupy fifth place in the SoCon standings, a half game up on sixth place East Tennessee State. Furman was a seventh place pick in a poll of league head coaches.
SoCon Tournament play gets underway next Tuesday at Fluor Field in downtown Greenville with a 9:00 a.m. single elimination game between the No. 8 and No. 8 seeded teams. The double elimination round of the tournament starts Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. with the No. 4 seed facing the No. 5 seed.
Slated to toe the rubber for Furman in Thursday's clash with Mercer is redshirt sophomore John Michael Bertrand (4-4, 4.26 ERA). He will be followed on Friday by redshirt junior right-hander David Dunlavey (5-7, 4.42 ERA). Head coach Brett Harker has not named a starter for Saturday's series finale.
Bertrand hurled eight strong innings in his last start, a 7-3 victory at Wofford on Friday, surrendering two runs on seven hits while striking out five. Dunlavey followed by going 5 1/3 innings in game two of the series opening doubleheader, collecting the victory in the Paladins' 9-3 twinbill sweep. The Spartanburg, S.C., product has won his last four starts, including a complete game, two-hit 3-0 shutout of Kansas on Apr. 27 that saw him take a no-hitter into the seventh inning before yielding a two-out single.
Hitting .271 on the season, Furman's bats have show more life of late, evidenced by the Paladins swatting .339 and plating 59 runs over the last seven games, including 24 in the Wofford series.
Senior All-SoCon outfielder Jabari Richards (.350, 8 HR, 28 RBI) leads Furman at the plate. He's followed by junior designated hitter Trent Alley (.298, 3 HR, 23 RBI) and junior catcher Dax Roper (.295, 9 HR, 32 RBI).
Richards, who has hit .413 (.12x29) over the last seven games, clubbed his 30th career home run in the win over South Carolina. Alley went 4-for-5 against Wofford on Sunday, helping the Paladins erase a 7-0 deficit and take an 8-7 lead before falling in the bottom of the ninth. Roper, meanwhile, has posted a .500 average (12x24) and driven in 12 runs over the last seven games.
Mercer played out of conference at Belmont last weekend after handing league front runner Samford their first SoCon series loss of the season two weeks ago in Macon.
The Bears have gone 8-1 in their last nine conference games and come to Greenville tied for second in the league standings with UNCG.
Furman won two of three from Mercer last year in Macon.
Hunter Reid, Athletic Communications