GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Grant Schuermann pitched eight strong innings and Furman used early runs to roll past Southern Conference Tournament No. 1 seed Mercer, 6-1, in a Thursday night winner's bracket clash at Fluor Field.
Furman (31-26), the No. 4 seed and a winner of 20 of its last 26 games, advances to play the winner of the East Tennessee State-UNCG game on Saturday at noon.
Schuermann (7-4), a redshirt sophomore left-hander, continued his late season mastery on the mound, scattering nine hits and surrendering only one unearned run. The Cincinnati, Ohio, left-hander struck out five and did not walk a batter in improving to 4-0 in his last five starts. Mercer's unearned run in the fifth halted his run of 21 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings of work. He hasn't allowed an earned run his last 25 innings on the mound.
Schuermann's teammates gave him all the runs he would need in the second, scoring four times against Mercer starting pitcher Kevin Coulter (5-3). Landon Kay's leadoff home run to center field put the Paladins up 1-0, and Jake Crawford upped it to 3-0 with a bases loaded, two-run single to right field. Sky Overton followed with an single to left field to drive home Bret Huebner to cap the frame.
The Paladins made it 5-0 in the fourth, mounting a two-out rally that led to a Carter Grote base hit that plated Sky Overton.
Schuermann, meanwhile, kept Mercer under wraps after the Bears pushed across a run following a Paladin error in the fifth, retiring the regular season champions in order in the sixth and seventh innings. In the eighth he yielded back-to-back singles but rallied to get the next three batters, including an inning ending fly ball off the bat of Jackson Ware that Sky Overton gloved as he banged into the wall in deep left center field.
Heath Hawkins pitched the ninth to nail down the victory.
Furman matched the 17-hit tally it recorded in its 13-3, opening round win over Wofford, getting 3-for-5 performances from Overton and Jason Costa. Five Paladins registered two hits, including Grote, Huebner, and Crawford, Sims Griffith, and Jabari Richards.
Kay's home run was his eighth in his last 19 starts.
Hunter Reid, Furman Sports Information