Nate Smith hurled 6 2/3 innings of strong ball, and No. 6 seed Furman used a five-run seventh inning to take command en route to a 10-1 victory over No. 3 seed Elon in Southern Conference Baseball Tournament first round action Wednesday evening at Fluor Field.
The Paladins (32-23), winners of six straight games, will play the winner of Wednesday's late game between the College of Charleston and Georgia Southern at 5:00 p.m. Thursday. The victory was Furman's fifth in its last seven games with Elon (27-28).
Smith (7-4) checked Elon's bats, allowing only a run on six hits while surrendering just one walk. He struck out eight and threw 116 pitches in earning the victory. The Paladin senior left-hander took a shutout into the seventh inning and retired the first two batters he faced before allowing a pair of hits, which led to his exit.
Drake Browne, Elliott Warford, and Brant Masters combined to work the final 2 1/3 innings to secure the win.
Smith, who allowed only four hits over the first six innings, got early run support as the Paladins tallied single runs in the first, second, and third innings.
Greg Harrison's RBI triple to center field in the first inning off Elon starting pitcher Kyle Webb (6-3) gave Furman a 1-0 lead.
In the second, Chris Ohmstede rocketed a Webb offering over the 30-foot "Green Monster" wall in left field for his 14th clout of the season to give the Paladins a 2-0 lead.
Furman made it 3-0 in the third after Will Muzika doubled off the left field wall and scored on a Taylor Johnson single to center field.
It remained 3-0 until the seventh when the Paladins combined three hits, two walks, and a Phoenix error to blow the game open with five more runs. Ohmstede led off with a double down the third base line and scored on a fielder's choice. Harrison drew a bases loaded walk to stretch the advantage to 5-0, and Alex Abrams finished off the big inning with a three-run double to right center field.
Jordan Simpson finished off Furman's offensive display with his second home run of the season, a two-run shot to left field in the eighth.
Furman registered 12 hits, with Muzika, Johnson, Abrams, Ohmstede, and Griffin Davis collecting two hits apiece. Muzika also scored three runs, while Ohmstede and Davis crossed the dish twice.
The Paladins roughed up Webb (6-3) for seven runs, though only four of which were earned, on seven hits over 6 1/3 innings. The Phoenix right-hander, who had gone 6-0 with a 2.93 ERA against SoCon opposition this year, walked two struck out six.
The win improved Furman to 7-3 in games at Fluor Field this year. The Paladins' 32 victories are only one shy of the school season record of 33 wins (33-24) registered in 2008.