Friday, February 15, 2019

Paladins fall to Morehead in season opener

Rightfielder David Webel makes a diving catch to end the top of the fourth Friday
during Furman's 6-3 loss to Morehead State. Photo courtesy of Furman
Morehead State starting pitcher Dalton Stambaugh tossed five good innings and reliever Alex Garbrick followed with four great ones as the Eagles dealt Furman a 6-3 loss in the season opener for both teams Friday at Latham Stadium. Stambaugh allowed two runs on five hits, while Garbrick gave up one run on one hit. The duo combined for 11 strikeouts and five walks.

Furman starter Nik Verbeke allowed one unearned run on four hits in four innings. After 76 pitches, Verbeke was relieved by Jordan Beatson. Beatson (0-1) gave up four runs on five hits in 1 1/3 innings to take the loss.

Morehead State took a 1-0 lead in the third inning on a sacrifice fly by Ryan Layne. Furman freshman centerfielder Jordan Starkes prevented another run from scoring with a terrific running catch in the right-centerfield gap to allow just the sac fly.

Starkes helped the Paladins answer in the bottom of the third when he laid down a perfect bunt with two outs for Furman's first hit of the season. Freshman Banks Griffith followed with a bloop double to tie the game. The Paladins took their only lead an inning later when David Webel grounded out to second with the bases loaded and one out.

That lead was short-lived however as the Eagles scored a pair of runs in the fifth. Jake Hammon's run-scoring infield single was followed by a Bryce Hensor sac fly that gave Morehead State a lead it never relinquished. Hunter Fain and Dom Peroni later added solo home runs for the Eagles, who belted 83 homers as a team last season in winning the Ohio Valley Conference championship.

Logan Taplett was the lone Paladin with multiple hits as he went 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI-double in the eighth inning that cut the lead to 6-3.

In his Furman debut, junior transfer catcher Dax Roper walked in all four of his plate appearances. Roper didn't get a chance to tie Ryan Presnell's single-game school record for walks in a game (set on Feb. 16, 2001). The Paladins were retired in order in the ninth leaving Roper in the hole.

Another newcomer that was solid for Furman was freshman reliever Rob Hughes. Hughes didn't allow a hit over the final two innings. He had one walk and two strikeouts.

Game two of the three-game series is scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m.

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