Saturday, March 17, 2018

Six double plays help Paladins edge Harvard

Furman's Ben Anderson went 4-for-5 Saturday to lead Furman to an 8-6 win
over Harvard. Anderson had 11 hits and 11 RBIs in the four-game series.
If double plays are a pitcher's best friend, Furman pitchers made a lot of new BFFs Saturday at Latham Stadium. The Paladins turned six double plays and freshman sensation Ben Anderson continued his dominant series as Furman defeated Harvard 8-6. The four-game series win improves the Paladins to 13-7 this season.

"It was unbelievable how many double plays. ... We had a good one where our pitcher covered (first), which is not easy to convert and another with interference," Furman coach Brett Harker said. "There were all different types of double plays, but that was the definitely the difference in the ballgame."

After Harvard jumped on top 2-0 in the top of the first, Anderson led off the bottom half with an opposite field home run for the third time in the series. Sims Griffith followed with a double and later scored on Jason Costa's sac fly to tie the game 2-2 after one.

Anderson led off the third with a scary single as his rocket up the middle nailed Harvard starter Buddy Hayward in the back. After a brief delay, Hayward stayed in but was clearly hampered as he hit two of the next three batters to load the bases. After Harvard went to the bullpen, Anderson came home on a wild pitch.

Anderson's RBI-single in the fourth pushed Furman's lead to 4-2. The Paladins led 4-3 in the sixth when Anderson and Griffith hit back-to-back RBI-singles. The Crimson (7-11) tied the game with a three-run rally in the seventh.

With the scored still tied 6-6, Jabari Richards led off the bottom of the eighth with a single and stole second. Anderson's only out of the day was a grounder to second that moved Richards to third. Griffith then ripped a double down the leftfield line to give Furman the lead. Jason Costa's RBI-single bounced over the Harvard third baseman's head to make it 8-6.

After getting a double play to end the eighth, Furman reliever John Michael Bertrand (3-0) got another one in the ninth to end the game. Bertrand allowed three hits, no runs, no walks and struck out one in his two innings of work.

"What a gutsy performance. He comes to me after the eighth and tell me he wants the ninth. I said, 'you got it,' " Harker said. "That's what you want out of guys and he's doing that on three days rest after a start."

Anderson went 4-for-5 with two run and three RBIs raising his season average to .412. For the four-game series, Anderson was 11-for-17 with 11 RBIs. Griffith went 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs Saturday, while Bret Huebner and Richards each went 2-for-3 and each scored two runs. Huebner had eight hits in the series, while Griffith had seven.

"I'm sure there's some players out there in the country that played better (than Anderson) this week, but I don't know. He's got to be in contention for SoCon Player of the Week and in the mentions for national. He was just so good and even his outs were productive," Harker said. "Sims has really hit the ball this week.
"Bret's average has jumped through the roof. ... To have him hitting eighth in our lineup makes us pretty dangerous."

Ben Skinner and Patrick McColl each had three hits to lead Harvard.

Furman returns to action Wednesday, hosting the College of Charleston at 6 p.m.

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