Two things pretty much told the story of Furman's baseball game against Samford Friday afternoon at Latham Stadium: 1. The Paladins made the ERA of Samford starter Samuel Strickland rise ... to 1.64. 2. Strickland had the highest ERA of the three Bulldogs who took the mound Friday.
The pitching trio led Samford to a 4-2 win, clinching the Southern Conference series win while handing Furman its seventh consecutive loss.
After two-out singles by Jason Costa and Jake Crawford, Costa came home on a wild pitch in the bottom of the third to give Furman a 1-0 lead.
Samford answered with a three-run fourth. The Bulldogs (14-14, 3-2) got consecutive run-scoring hits by the No. 6, 7 and 8 batters (Max Pinto, Ayrton Schafer and Taylor Garris) to take a 3-1 lead.
The Paladins (13-14, 0-2) came back with a run in the fifth on Brandon Elmy's RBI-single, but left the bases loaded.
Samford added an insurance run in the ninth when Connor Burns led off with his first home run. Burns had entered the game defensively just before the final pitch of the bottom of the eighth.
Furman starter Grant Schuermann was solid despite being tormented by the bottom half of the lineup. Pinto, Schafer and Garris, who entered the series batting .239, .205 and .195, respectively, went a combined 7-for-11 Thursday. Meanwhile, the top five batters in Samford's lineup went 3-for-20. Schuermann (2-5) allowed four runs on 11 hits in eight innings. He had no walks and six strikeouts.
Strickland (4-0), a left-handed freshman who entered Friday with a 1.61 ERA, four walks and 36 strikeouts in 28 innings, got the win. He gave up two runs, one earned, on five hits in five innings. He had two walks and three strikeouts. Josh Rich worked three scoreless innings, with one walk and four strikeouts, lowering his ERA to 1.37. Wyatt Burns, the SoCon's active leader in career saves, tossed a 1-2-3 ninth lowering his ERA to 1.27. For the second day in a row, Burns struck out the side in the ninth to earn his fourth save.
Bret Huebner was the lone Paladin with multiple hits as he went 2-for-4. Furman's homerless streak extended to 71 consecutive innings.
The Paladins will try to salvage the final game of the series on Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.
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