GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Nik Verbeke pitched six effective innings and Furman pounded out 18 hits to roll past Western Carolina, 13-4, in the opening game of a weekend Southern Conference baseball series Friday evening at Latham Stadium.
The Paladins (22-23, 7-9 SoCon) will go for the series win over the Catamounts (4-39, 2-17 SoCon) in a Saturday noon contest prior to Furman University's evening graduation ceremonies.
Verbeke (5-3) allowed a run in the fourth inning but held the Catamounts in check in the fifth and sixth while his teammates provided solid support en route to a 6-1 lead. The redshirt junior right-hander was charged with a run on seven hits in earning the victory. He struck out four and was the beneficiary of a triple play in the first inning, Furman's first since 2001.
Jabari Richards tied the game at 1-1 with a leadoff home run in the fourth, his fifth of the season, and the Paladins added three more in the frame on Sims Griffith's RBI bunt single, a Ben Anderson run-scoring single, and a Jason Costa's bloop RBI double that drove home Anderson.
The four-run fourth started a string of five consecutive scoring innings by the Paladins, who finished off their onslaught with five runs in the eighth, highlighted by a Brandon Elmy stand-up, two-run triple to right center field.
Elmy singled, doubled, and tripled and drove in two runs in a 3-for-5 performance.
Anderson, who reached base on each of his six plate appearances, went 3-for-3 with three RBI and scored two runs.
Jake Crawford doubled twice and scored three times in a 3-for-5 effort, and Griffith continued to feast of Western Carolina, going 2-for-4 and scoring three runs. The Paladin senior second baseman has hit .405 (15-for-37) and scored 12 runs in 11 career games versus the Catamounts.
Western Carolina, which finished with 13 hits, got three-hit performances from Spencer Holcomb and Justin Sparks.
Catamount starting pitcher Corey Sikes (0-3) was charged with the loss, lasting just 3 1/3 innings and allowing four runs on seven hits. Three WCU relievers also fell victim to Furman's attack, surrendering 11 hits and nine runs.
The win improved Furman to 12-3 against Western Carolina since 2014.
Hunter Reid, Furman Sports Information