|Furman's David Dunlavey fired a two-hit shutout as the Paladins|
defeated Kansas 3-0 Saturday. Photo courtesy of Furman
While many of those youngsters spent the next two hours in their own little world in the stands, they also got a first-hand look as to why baseball is simply the best.
One day after Kansas piled up 11 runs on 17 hits, nine walks and three hit batters, Furman's David Dunlavey silenced those Big XII bats. The Spartanburg native carried a no-hitter into the seventh before settling for a two-hit shutout as the Paladins defeated the Jayhawks, 3-0, in a game that lasted all of one hour and 54 minutes. It's Furman's first complete game shutout since Will Gaddis blanked ETSU at the 2016 Southern Conference Tournament.
"This is the first time all year that all the pitches that I've told everybody he has, he had them all," Furman coach Brett Harker said. "The only kid I've had that has his talent is Will Gaddis. He's got the fastball and two different breaking balls, the slider - which is devastating - and changeup. When he throws that changeup right, it's a knee-buckling pitch."
Dunlavey (3-7) fired a pair of strikes to start the game before his 1-2 pitch hit Kansas leadoff man Rudy Karre. After the Jayhawks' first batter reached base in six of Friday's nine innings, there had to be some trepidation that Furman might be in for another long day.
But there was no trepidation for Dunlavey - even after a passed ball and a sac bunt put Karre on third for Kansas slugger Jaxx Groshans, who entered batting .348 with 11 home runs and 35 RBIs. Dunlavey struck him out then got a groundout to leave Karre stranded on first.
"You've got literally one of the best hitters in the country up and he figures out a way to strike him out and strand that runner," Harker said. "All of a sudden we get the momentum in our dugout there and he just refused to ever give it back."
All the support needed for Dunlavey came in the bottom of the first. After Jabari Richards walked, stole second and went to third on an errant throw by the catcher, he came home on Sterling Turmon's two-out single to right.
Meanwhile, Kansas (21-20) didn't have another baserunner until two out in the fourth on an error. The next Jayhawk reached with two out in the sixth on Dunlavey's lone walk of the game. With two out in the seventh, Kansas' Benjamin Sems hit a hard grounder under the glove of diving second baseman Banks Griffith to end Dunlavey's bid for Furman's first no-hitter since 1979. Undaunted, Dunlavey didn't even have to make another pitch in the seventh as he picked Sems off to end the inning.
"My pickoff move is something I work on a lot. It's bailed me out a couple of times this year and right there got the momentum right back in our dugout," Dunlavey said. "I've been waiting a long time to pitch like this this year. It just seemed like everything was going my way today."
Furman (18-25) picked up a big insurance run in the bottom of the seventh when Jordan Starkes tripled to right and came home on Bret Huebner's bunt single on the next pitch.
Dunlavey was one out away from becoming the first Paladin to throw a one-hit shutout in 19 years before Kansas pinch-hitter Tom Lichty lined a single off the glove of Griffith. Three pitches later, Dunlavey got a fly ball to center to end the game before getting mobbed by teammates in celebration.
Dunlavey, who threw 125 pitches, finished with nine strikeouts - one shy of his season-high. Other than the one error, a Furman defense that has struggled in April was brilliant Saturday. Dunlavey's no-hit bid was preserved when Dax Roper hopped on a swinging bunt and made a perfect throw to first in the third. On the next play, third baseman Logan Taplett made a diving stop of a line drive and fired to first to end the inning. Later, David Webel ran down a ball along the rightfield line that not many other rightfielders would've reached.
"Webel back in right (field), that's where he changes games," Webel said. "I don't know if there's a ball he's not going to catch. That's the way he patrols right field."
The rubber game of the series is scheduled for Sunday at noon.