This past weekend, the Samford baseball team was able to complete its first three-game SoCon road sweep since May 2016 as they earned three impressive victories over the Furman Paladins in a series played in Greenville, South Carolina.
The Bulldogs used three strong pitching performances and some key hitting to improve their record to 15-14 (4-2, SoCon) on the season. The three losses continue the slump Furman (13-15, 0-3 SoCon), as they had lost their previous five games before the three that came at the hands of the Bulldogs.
In the first of two games played on Friday, the Paladins jumped out to an early lead. Late in the game, freshman outfielder Max Pinto scorched an RBI single into left field to score Greg Mula from third base to give Samford a 4-3 lead in the eighth inning. Senior Wyatt Burns would then close out the game in the ninth inning to give the Bulldogs the close victory. Burns pitched the final 2 ⅔ innings, striking out six batters. Junior Cody Shelton started on the mound for Samford and threw five innings, allowing three runs on seven hits while striking out two Furman batters.
At the plate for the Bulldogs, freshman Brooks Carlson went three for three to improve his average to a team leading .318 for the season. Junior Troy Dixon as well as sophomores Ayrton Schafer and Taylor Garris all had multi-hit games at the plate, adding to the Bulldogs’ total of twelve on the day.
In the second game of the double-header on Friday, freshman Sam Strickland (4-0, 1.64) used an effective five inning performance to stay perfect on the season, as the Bulldogs won 4-2. The Birmingham, Alabama native struck out three batters while only giving up one earned run on five hits. Wyatt Burns and senior Josh Rich both pitched scoreless relief outings to finish out the game. Rich pitched three innings, allowing only two hits and striking out four Furman batters.
After Furman took the lead in the bottom of the third inning, the Bulldogs were able to bring across three runs in the top of the fourth to regain the lead. Sophomore Taylor Garris went three for four at the plate with an RBI on the day. Schafer and Pinto also added two-hit games and an RBI each for Samford.
In the final game of the series, the Bulldogs used an all-around dominate showing to defeat the Paladins by a score of 10-0. Junior Stephen Jones started on the mound for Samford, throwing seven innings of two-hit baseball. Junior Jack Rude and senior Erin Baldwin appeared in relief, covering the final two innings and striking out a combined four batters. The Bulldogs’ pitching staff held Furman to a total of three hits at the plate.
At the plate for Samford, five different players had multiple hits. Brooks Carlson went three for five with an RBI on the day. Sophomore Brandon Fryman also had a productive day at the plate, going two for five with three RBIs. Schafer, sophomore Anthony Mulrine, and sophomore Ryan Crockett each had two hits for the Bulldogs. Crockett added his first home run of the season to the lineup’s 13 total hits on the day.
The Bulldogs travel to Charleston, South Carolina to play conference rival The Citadel (12-14, 3-3 SoCon) in a three game series (Apr. 6-8). They then return home to face in-state rival Auburn (22-7, 4-5 SEC) on April 10.
Collin Reese, Staff Writer
[photo courtesy of Chase Cochran]