GREENVILLE -- Derek Norman went 2-for-3 with a two-run home run to lead Furman to a 12-10 win over East Tennessee State in Southern Conference baseball action Saturday afternoon at Furman Stadium.
Furman (14-6, 4-1 SoCon) has now won three straight and will go for the three-game series sweep against East Tennessee State (5-13, 1-4 SoCon) on Sunday in a 1:00 p.m. game.
The Paladins struck for three runs in the bottom of the first off Buccaneer starting pitcher Reid Casey, who hit Paladin lead off man Clint Hill and then surrendered a two-run home run to Norman. Chris Valdes, who singled, later scored on an ground out by Danny Rueckel to give the Paladins a 3-0 lead.
East Tennessee cut it to 3-2 in the fourth on back-to-back RBI singles by Tim Turner and Ryan Hyder off Paladin starter Tom Mastny, but the Paladins answered with four runs in the bottom of the fourth, using a pair of walks, a wild pitch, and three hits, including an RBI single by Adam Etherington and two-run triple by Clint Hill to take a 7-2 lead. Etherington's run scoring single extended his hitting streak to 16 games.
The Buccaneers made it 7-4 with two runs in the fifth and, after Furman went up 8-4 with a run in the bottom of the fifth, sliced the Paladins' lead to 8-7 with a three-run seventh, highlighted by a solo home run to left field by Brandon Cross and a two-run blast by Ryan Hyder, also to left, off Paladin reliever Jon Stallsmith.
Furman came back in the bottom of the seventh, taking advantage of a pair of Buccaneer errors to plate three runs to make it a 10-7 game.
East Tennessee State's Andy Baxter's two-run home run in the eighth off Rob Purvis sparked the Buccaneers to a three-run inning, making it an 11-10 game. But Furman pushed across a run in the bottom of the eighth to make it 12-10 and then called on reliever Danny Rueckel to hold the lead. Rueckel, who got pinch hitter Bryan Crouse on a ground out to third to start the inning, yielded a pair of singles to Jeremy Terry and Kirk Keithley, but stranded them at first and third, respectively, after getting a fielder's choice and striking out Nathan Copeland to end the game.
Tom Mastny (3-2) picked up the victory after pitching 5.0 innings and giving up eight hits and four runs while striking out four and walking three. Reid Casey (1-3) absorbed the loss for East Tennessee State, yielding nine hits, eight runs, and two walks in 5.0 innings of work.
East Tennessee State, which touched up Furman pitching for 16 hits, was paced by Tim Turner, who went 3-for-5 with two RBI, and Ryan Hyder, who went 2-for-4 with three RBI. Furman's Dominic Frankey paced Furman's 14-hit attack with four hits in five plate appearances.
"We pitched behind today, and that hurt us, but you have to give East Tennessee State credit for battling back," said Furman head coach Ron Smith. "The one very good thing we did was play errorless baseball, and when we had opportunities to get outs we got them. We also had some very key hits with two outs, and in the end those proved significant."