April 25, 2008
CULLOWHEE, N.C. -- Jay Jackson recorded a career high 11 strikeouts over eight innings to propel Furman to a 4-2 series opening win over Western Carolina in Southern Conference baseball action Friday evening at Hennon Stadium.
Jackson, a junior right-hander from Taylors, S.C., allowed only two runs on just four hits and struck out seven of the final 11 batters he faced to claim his third consecutive victory and improve to a Southern Conference best 9-1 on the year.
The strong work by the Christ Church Episcopal School product helped Furman (24-15, 10-6 SoCon) claim its eighth straight SoCon win and lifted the Paladins into fourth place in the league standings, only a game and a half behind first place Elon and a game behind both second place College of Charleston and UNC Greensboro.
The victory was Furman's third in its last four clashes with Western Carolina (19-22, 7-9 SoCon).
Jackson allowed a two-run third inning home run to Western Carolina's Reid Rollison that cut Furman's lead to 3-2, but that would be all the scoring the Catamounts could manage against the Paladin ace, who gave way to Nick Karow in the ninth. After Blake Murphy singled with one out in the Catamount ninth, Karow struck out Rollison and Matt Johns to end the game and notch his sixth save.
Furman used three Western Carolina errors, a hit batsman, and just one hit in the second inning to take a 3-0 lead off Catamount starting and losing pitcher Mike Tavernier (3-3).
After Tollison's two-run blast to left center in the bottom of the second made it a 3-2 game, Furman pushed across a run in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Reese Wade to stretch its advantage to 4-2.
Wade, a freshman designated hitter who is hitting a team leading .481, had two of Furman's five hits and the Paladins' only RBI before surprisingly being lifted for pinch-hitter in the eighth.
Western Carolina managed just five hits in the contest.
The Paladins and Catamounts play game two of the series Saturday beginning at 6:00 p.m.