Furman Downs Central Connecticut State in Series Opener, 12-8

Furman beat CCSU, 12-8, on Friday.

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Jason Costa homered and drove in four runs and Nike Verbeke pitched five effective innings to help Furman claim a 12-8 series opening win over Central Connecticut State on Friday afternoon at Latham Stadium.

The two teams play again Saturday at 1:00 p.m.

Returning to the lineup following a three-game absence due to injury, Costa, a senior designated hitter, stroked an RBI single in a four-run Furman fourth and finished off his performance with a three-run home run in a six-run seventh to give the Paladins a 12-4 lead.

Sims Griffith had three hits, including a triple in his second straight game, and scored three runs, and Ben Anderson went 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs to headline Furman's 15-hit attack.

With the score tied 2-2 after three innings, the Paladins grabbed the lead for good by scoring four runs in the fourth, chasing Blue Devils' starter and losing pitcher Brandon Fox (0-1) in the process.  Deon Sanders, appearing in his first baseball game since 2016, followed a Logan Taplett single by driving Fox's first pitch to him over the left center field wall for a 4-2 lead.  The Paladins tacked on two more in the frame, capped by Costa's single to center field that drove home Ben Anderson for a 6-2 advantage.

CCSU made it a 6-4 game in the seventh, which Furman answered with a six-spot on the strength of five hits in its next turn at the plate — Costa's three-run blast over the right center field wall making it a 12-4 contest.

The Blue Devils tallied three times in the eighth and one in the ninth against a trio of Paladin relievers.

Furman's mid-inning rally made a winner of Paladin senior right-hander Nik Verbeke (2-1), who was moved into Friday's starting slot after junior Jake Crawford, Furman's projected Saturday starter, was scratched for the weekend.  Verbeke worked five innings, allowing six hits, two runs, one of which was earned, while walking two.  He fanned three.

Both teams finished with 15 hits.  Mitch Guilmette paced Central Connecticut State, going 4-for-5 with three RBI.

Fox, who got the call as the Blue Devils' starting pitcher after scheduled starter Andrew Hinckley was scratched less than an hour before first pitch, last just 3 1/3 innings.  He yielded six runs on six hits, walked three, and struck out three.

Hunter Reid, Furman Sports Information