GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Julian Ridings doubled and scored on a wild pitch to break a 4-all tie in the 12th inning and Western Carolina went on to tack on five more runs en route to a 9-3 win over Furman in Southern Conference baseball action Sunday afternoon at Latham Stadium.
The win gave Western Carolina (19-15, 9-6 SoCon) the series win over Furman (18-13, 6-9 SoCon) two games to one, and the defeat continued the Paladins' struggles at home against SoCon opposition, where Furman has lost six of its last seven league games.
Ridings' tie breaking run on the wild pitch was followed by a three-run triple by Bradley Strong and an Aaron Attaway RBI single to right field that completed the cycle for the junior shortstop, who homered in the third inning, doubled in the fifth, tripled in the ninth, and struck out in the 11th before earning his final plate appearance in the Catamounts' big 12th inning. He went 4-for-6, drove in two runs, and scored once.
Western Carolina led the game 3-1 in the ninth with its closer, Preston Hatcher, on the mound, but Hatcher walked pinch-hitter Jake Jones with one out and then yielded a game tying two-run home run to left field by freshman Jordan Simpson.
Neither team threatened in the 10th and 11th, but Western Carolina wasted little time in the 12th in seizing control. Ridings doubled down the right field line off of Paladin reliever Drake Browne, who then hit Tyler White. Hatcher, who had been inserted into the designated hitter spot upon entering the game, then executed a sacrifice bunt. After Dykota Spiess was intentionally walked to load the bases, Browne struck out Austin Neary for the second out, but he his third pitch to Cody Jones was wild and allowed Ridings to race home for the 5-4 advantage.
Western Carolina grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first on a Jacob Hoyle RBI single, and the Catamounts added two more in the third on solo blasts by Attaway and Hoyle off of Paladin starter Jake Wolff.
Catamount starting pitcher Jordan Smith shut out Furman over the first seven innings, allowing only three hits and three walks before Simpson led off the eighth with a single, followed by walks to Will Muzika and Hunter Burton. He was replaced by Tyler Powell, who struck out Taylor Johnson for the first out of the inning. Paul Nitto worked Powell for a bases loaded walk, after which Hatcher got the call from the bullpen and limited the Furman rally by getting Chris Ohmstede on a pop fly and Alex Abrams on a ground out.
Hatcher (4-2) worked the final 4 2/3 innings to earn the win. He allowed two runs on two hits, walked three, and struck out one.
Furman managed only six hits, three of which were credited to Simpson, whose 3-for-5, two-RBI, two-run performance included his first career home run.
The loss went to Browne (2-1), who was charged with four of Western Carolina's six runs in the 12th. He allowed only one hit but walked two and hit a batter.
A trio of Paladin relievers — Alex Abrams, Elliott Warford, and Matt Solter — combined to throw seven innings of shutout ball and surrender only four hits until the decisive 12th.
Western Carolina finished with 11 hits, with Attaway accounting for four and Hoyle three in a 3-for-4, two-RBI performance.