Friday, February 16, 2018

Richards powers Paladins to win in opener

Jabari Richards had a career-high six RBIs and Grant Schuermann tossed six solid innings to lead the Furman baseball team to a season opening 13-4 win over Marist Friday at Latham Stadium.

"Obviously, we swung the the bats very well. We didn't come out the gate all that strong. That was a pretty good arm there (Marist starter Skyler Pichardo)," Furman coach Brett Harker said. "We scuffled a little bit, but then our bats got hot. ... Overall, I was very pleased with how we played against a quality opponent."

Sims Griffith RBI-single gave Furman a 1-0 lead in the second before Marist came back in third on Matt Rubayo's solo home run. The reigning Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion Red Foxes took a 2-1 lead in the fourth on Furman's first error of the season.

The Paladins' offense erupted in the fifth. Following singles by Bret Huebner and Ben Anderson, Richards hit one of those classic Jabari Richards' home runs just to the left of straightaway center. Jason Costa deposited the next pitch over the wall in left field. The back-to-back homers staked Furman to a 5-2 lead.

The Paladins added three runs an inning later. Anderson, a highly-touted freshman centerfielder who led off Friday, did a beautiful job of hitting the opposite way stroking a two-run triple down the left-field line. Richards followed with a double to left-center to push the lead to 8-2.

"Jabari will take a couple of swings that has you scratching your head and then he absolutely smokes one to the opposite field and you just realize how talented the kid is," Harker said. "Next at-bat, he comes up and is fooled out front. He flicks his wrists and is a foot away from another home run."

Richards added a two-run double to right-center in the eighth. After an 0-for-4 start to the day, Brandon Elmy got in on the offensive fun with a two-run homer to make it 13-2.

Jake Crawford and Richards had three hits apiece to lead Furman, while Anderson and Griffith each finished with two hits.

"Legging out a triple to left field is not something you normally see in baseball," Harker said about Anderson's hit in the sixth. "That was just so exciting to see that kid go 2-for-4 with walk right out of the chute as a freshman."

Schuermann (1-0) allowed two runs, one earned, on six hits in six innings. He had two walks and four strikeouts. Tyler Kimbrell had five strikeouts in two scoreless innings of relief.

"I didn't think Grant had his best stuff and he still goes six innings and gives up two runs on opening day. That's not a bad day right there," Harker said. "TK threw the ball very well in the middle."

Game two of the series is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday.

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