Friday, March 9, 2018

Lazzaro hurls Paladins past Michigan State

Furman freshman Matt Lazzaro allowed one run in seven innings
Friday for his first collegiate win. Photo courtesy of Furman.
During Furman's current run of excellent baseball, freshman Ben Anderson has led the way offensively. On Friday night at Fluor Field, another freshman stole the show. Left-hander Matt Lazzaro had the kind of pitching performance that earned him a spot in the weekend rotation as the Paladins defeated Michigan State 3-2 in the annual First Pitch Invitational at Fluor Field in downtown Greenville.

Lazzaro, who entered Friday's game with a 7.31 ERA in 16 innings over three starts, allowed one run on four hits in seven innings for his first collegiate win. Lazzaro (1-2) had no walks and eight strikeouts, doubling his season total for Ks to 16, as the Paladins won for the sixth time in their last seven games.

"I said in the pregame show that Matt Lazzaro was doing everything we wanted him to do, his numbers just aren't showing. The kid's going to be special, just like I've said about Ben Anderson," Furman coach Brett Harker said. "I said he was going to have a breakout game and what better place than this venue.
"That was a dominant performance and one of the best I've seen. It reminded me of (Grant) Schuermann's outing as a freshman at Gardner-Webb. That's the last time I've seen a freshman look that good."

Michigan State starter Ethan Landon entered the game with a 3.63 ERA, one walk and 21 strikeouts in 17 innings this season. On Friday, Furman posted seven hits and five walks off Landon. While the Paladins let Landon (0-3) off the hook a bit, they were still able to push across three runs over his seven innings of work.

After Jason Costa and Brandon Elmy began the Furman second with singles, Landon Kay walked one out later to load the bases. Costa scored on a wild pitch to give the Paladins a 1-0 lead. In the fifth, Anderson's third triple of the season was followed by a Sims Griffith single to push the lead to 2-0.

Furman (9-5) added its final run an inning later. Singles by Elmy and Kay put runners on the corners. With two outs, Bret Huebner's hopper up the middle got in between the Spartans' shortstop and second baseman, who each pulled up and looked at each other as the ball neared.

"They threw some power arms at us, but we had some opportunities," Harker said. "I felt like we had control the whole game. We got a little sloppy there, but we made the plays when the game was on the line."

The Spartans (3-10) got on the board in the seventh and threatened for more with runners on second and third. However, Lazzaro got a ground ball to second to end the inning and wrap up his terrific outing.

Michigan State sliced the lead to 3-2 in the eighth and put the tying run in scoring position, but Furman reliever Tyler Kimbrell got a strikeout to end the inning. Kimbrell tossed a 1-2-3 ninth, ending the game with his third strikeout, for his second save. Kimbrell has 21 strikeouts and three walks in 12 1/3 innings of relief this season.

"It's nice to have someone on the back end where I can sit there and say, 'if you beat us with him out there, I can sleep at night,' " Harker said. "He just pounds the (strike) zone. He's a 6-foot-8 intimidating dude, who's mean as a snake out there.
"If we want to wear rings we've got to play well at Fluor and that was a heck of a start to playing here this season."

The First Pitch Invitational continues Saturday when Furman takes on Illinois for just the second time in school history. First pitch at Fluor Field is scheduled for 1 p.m.

No comments:

Post a Comment