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ETSU Dashes Furman's SoCon Tourney Hopes, 5-2

Jason Costa
Jason Costa

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Ryan Simpler pitched a complete game and Cade Gilbert drove in a pair of eighth inning runs to lift No. 6 East Tennessee State past No. 7 Furman, 5-2, in a Southern Conference Tournament elimination game Thursday afternoon at Fluor Field.

The win advances ETSU (28-24) in the tournament's loser's bracket while the loss ends the season for Furman (24-28).

Simpler (7-6) needed 134 pitches to complete his route job.  The senior right-hander allowed both runs on 10 hits and struck out four.  He did not issue a walk.

The Bucs finished off the game when Furman's Bret Huebner was thrown out at the plate after getting waved from third base on a two-out single off the bat of Sims Griffith, whose hit was misplayed for an error in left field by ETSU's Ben Jackson.  Jackson retrieved the ball and connected with third baseman Cade Gilbert on the relay, and Gilbert's accurate throw home nailed Huebner by a step.

Leading 3-2, ETSU added two runs in the eighth after Paladin reliever Jordan Beatson yielded a leadoff single to Christian Bailey and hit Aaron Mayer with a pitch.  Following a balk, Beatson walked the bases loaded before Jake Crawford took over, and surrendered Gilbert's two-run double just inside the third base bag.

Furman took a 1-0 lead in the first on a Landon Kay single that scored Jason Costa.

ETSU got to Paladin starter Nik Verbeke (5-5) for three, two-out runs in the third, combining four hits with a failed pickoff attempt.

The Paladins got a run back in the fifth on a Costa RBI single but didn't threaten again until the eighth when Kay doubled with two outs.  Simpler bounced back by getting Crawford on a ground out.

Furman tallied 10 hits, getting two each from Costa, Kay, Huebner, and Griffith.

ETSU also had 10 hits with Gilbert's 2-for-4, 2-RBI performance leading the way.

Verbeke took the loss, lasting just 3 1/3 innings and allowing three runs on seven hits.  He walked two and fanned five.

Paladin freshman Matt Lazzaro made his first mound appearance since Apr. 14, throwing 2 2/3 innings of shutout, no-hit relief.