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Furman To Open SoCon Series Thursday At Western Carolina

Zach Ahearn
Zach Ahearn

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Coming off a 3-2 triumph over UNC Asheville on Tuesday, Furman's baseball team swings back into Southern Conference play on Thursday when it opens a three-game series at Western Carolina.  First pitch at Childress Field at Hennon Stadium is set for 5:00 p.m.

Friday's game is also a 5:00 p.m. start, and Saturday's finale is slated to get underway at 2:00 p.m.

Furman (13-23, 5-7 SoCon) will be looking to turn things around after dropping back-to-back league series to East Tennessee State (Apr. 12-13) and UNC Greensboro (Apr. 5-7).  The Paladins lone SoCon series win this year was a three-game sweep of The Citadel (Mar. 29-31) in Greenville.

Western Carolina (16-16, 5-7 SoCon) is coming off a road series victory over Mercer last weekend.

The Paladins' pitching rotation should see redshirt sophomore John Michael Bertrand (2-2, 3.72 ERA) toe the rubber in Thursday's opener, followed by sophomore left-hander Matt Lazzaro (1-4, 7.00 ERA) on Friday and redshirt junior David Dunlavey (2-7, 5.19 ERA) in game three of the series.

Bertrand has pitched at least six innings in six of his seven starts this year and has gone 1-0 with a 2.73 ERA in three starts since moving into the series opening staring role.  He allowed two runs, only one earned, over seven innings but did not get a decision in his last outing, a 4-3 Paladin victory over ETSU last Friday.

Hitting .263 as a team, Furman has banged out 39 home runs, but the Paladins have struggled to put the ball in play at times, evidenced by the squad's 327 strikeouts (9.08/game).

Furman's leading hitter is senior All-SoCon outfielder Jabari Richards (.402, 7 HR, 21 RBI). Senior first baseman John Michael Boswell (.323, 5 HR, 30 RBI) will look to return to action after sitting out the UNC Asheville game nursing a thumb injury sustained in Sunday action versus ETSU.  The emergence of redshirt sophomore outfielder Sterling Turmon (.320, 10 HR, 23 RBI) has been notable.  The Greenville native cracked his team leading 10th home run in the win over UNC Asheville.

Although Western Carolina owns a commanding 98-51 lead in the series, Furman has fashioned a 12-4 mark against the Catamounts over the last 16 games, winning four consecutive series from 2014-17 before WCU ended the run last year by taking two of three from the Paladins in Greenville.

The Paladins have won five straight and seven of the last eight meetings in Cullowhee.

Thursday's opener will be live streamed via ESPN+. Streaming plans for Friday and Saturday's contests have yet to announced. All three games will include a Furman audio stream featuring the "Voice of the Paladins" Dan Scott on the call and available via Stretch Internet, TuneIn.com, and campus radio station 95.9 FM.

Fans can also follow @FurmanBaseball on twitter for updates and any weather news that may impact game schedules.