CULLOWHEE, N.C. -- Banks Griffith went 3-for-4, doubled twice, and capped a three-run ninth inning rally with an RBI bunt single to help lift Furman past Western Carolina, 4-3, in the rain-delayed, opening game of a Southern Conference Saturday doubleheader at Hennon Stadium.
The win, the seventh straight for Furman in Cullowhee, earned the Paladins' the series victory. Western Carolina avoided the sweep by claiming the second game of the twinbill, 5-1.
Western Carolina starting pitcher Taylor Purus (3-3) blanked Furman and limited the Paladins to only three hits over the game's first seven frames before Griffith led off the eighth inning with a double and scored Furman's first run on a ground out to cut Western Carolina's lead to 3-1.
Trent Alley led off the decisive ninth with a single and advanced to third when Catamount shortstop Jalen Jones misplayed a ground ball off the bat of Sterling Turmon, who reached second on the miscue. Alley raced home on Logan Taplett's sacrifice fly, and Turmon scored on Jared Mihalik's RBI single to tie the game. Bret Huebner greeted Catamount reliever Jacob Corn with a flare single that got Mihalik to third base, and he came home with the go-ahead run on Griffith's third hit of the game, a bunt single.
In the bottom of the ninth Eric Taylor worked around a Paldin error to close out the game, getting Kitt Capell on a fly ball that Paladin right fielder gloved at the wall for the final out.
Leading 3-0, Western Carolina threatened in the seventh by loading the bases with no outs against Paladin reliever Hank Nichols, but Jordan Beatson came on to douse the fire by striking out Luke Robinson, Immanuel Wilder, and Andrew Bullock.
Beatson (4-1) recorded a pair of strikeouts in the eighth and was the beneficiary of the three-run ninth, earning the victory. He struck out five.
The save was the second of the week for Taylor and third of the season for the senior right-hander.
Alley followed Griffith with a 2-for-4 performance at the plate. Furman finished with eight hits.
Purus recorded 10 strikeouts.
Furman starter David Dunlavey allowed three runs on seven hits over six innings. He walked two and struck out six.
The game was halted in the third inning for two hours and 15 minutes due to rain.
In the Saturday's nightcap, Western Carolina senior pitcher Chase Walter (4-4) recorded a career high 17 strikeouts to key the Catamounts (17-18, 6-9 SoCon) to victory.
He outdueled Paladin starter Matt Lazzaro (1-5), who surrendered four runs on seven hits over 6 1/3 innings. He struck out a career high nine batters.
Furman (15-24, 7-8 SoCon) returns home to face USC Upstate (Tuesday) and Georgia State (Wednesday) in a pair of midweek contests.
Hunter Reid, Sports Information