Johnson City, Tenn. (May 18, 2002) - The Furman Paladins scored two runs in the top of the eighth inning to take the lead and held on to defeat East Tennessee State, 4-3, in baseball action Saturday afternoon from Cardinal Park in Johnson City, Tenn.
The Buccaneers (21-33, 13-15 Southern Conference) grabbed the lead early, scoring two runs in the bottom of the second. Senior right fielder Kirk Keithley (Peoria, Ill.) led the inning off with a walk and advanced to second on a single by freshman third baseman Mike Giroud (St. Petersburg, Fla.). Keithley scored and Giroud went to third as senior catcher Scott Rose (Soddy-Daisy, Tenn.) reached on a fielder's choice and advanced to second on an error. Giroud scored the second ETSU run as senior designated hitter Ryan Hyder (Erwin, Tenn.) laced a single to left field.
Furman (22-32, 13-16 SoCon) tied the game as they plated two runs of their own in the top of the fifth. Third baseman Jon Stallsmith led the inning off with a double to left center. With one out, second baseman Clint Hill hit a double of his own to score Stallsmith. The next batter, center fielder Nick Wajda, singled to bring home Hill.
East Tennessee State wasted no time in regaining the lead, scoring another run in the bottom of the fifth. To lead off the inning, senior center fielder John Gorton (Hinsdale, N.H.) singled, freshman left fielder Matt Traylor (Knoxville, Tenn.) walked and senior shortstop Jeremy Terry (Cumberland, Ky.) singled. But Gorton was gunned down at the plate on Terry's single, leaving runners on first and third. Senior second baseman Brandon Cross (Bluff City, Tenn.) then singled to bring Traylor home and give ETSU the lead, 3-2.
The Buccaneers carried their lead until the top of the eighth, when Furman would grab the advantage. Shortstop Danny Rueckel led the inning off by reaching on an error. After advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt by Stallsmith and to third on a single by right fielder Cole Hubka, Rueckel scored on a single by Hill. Then with two outs, designated hitter Drew Latora singled to score Hill. The Paladins could have put more runs on the board, but the Buccaneer defense stepped up and recorded the last two outs of the inning by cutting down runners at the plate.
ETSU's last threat came in the bottom of the eighth. The Buccaneers had runners on first and third with two outs, but Rueckel, who had come on to pitch to begin the inning shut the door on the Bucs.
Rob Purvis (1-2) picked up the win for Furman, pitching one-third of an inning, closing out the seventh with a strikeout. Rueckel picked up his second save of the season, pitching two innings, allowing just one hit and striking out one.
ETSU sophomore starter Tim Turner (Marietta, Ga.) took the loss (3-6), pitching 7.1 innings, allowing four runs (two earned) on 10 hits and striking out three.
The Buccaneers were led by Giroud, who went 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI. Hill again had a solid game for the Paladins, going 2-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBI.
The Buccaneers and the Paladins square off again for the final game of the regular season, Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. from Cardinal Park in Johnson City, Tenn.