By: Bryce Caputo, Contributor
Furman’s miraculous win against Ohio State almost did not happen.
The Paladins were scheduled to play the Buckeyes at Fluor Field Friday, March 8, but wet weather forced a rescheduling for Monday, March 11, at 6 p.m. at Furman’s Latham Stadium. Then that did not happen, as rain delayed the game another 30 minutes, the audience in the stands watched as the Paladins folded the infield tarp and the grounds crew poured fresh dirt between third base and home plate. Furman redshirt senior Nik Verbeke threw the first pitch at 6:30 p.m., setting into motion a long battle.
In the first inning, Ohio State scored three runs — two unearned runs due to errors but points on the board regardless. Furman finished the inning without a hit.
Coming off a 14-0 loss to Appalachian State and a 3-9 record overall, up against the 7-7 Buckeyes, who already had three runs in the first inning, the Paladins could have given up, but they did not.
Furman held Ohio State scoreless in the top of the third, with a game-changing performance to follow. Junior Logan Taplett doubled to left center to score junior Dax Roper and freshman Banks Griffith. Senior John Michael Boswell scored on a wild pitch, followed by a score by Taplett with senior Bret Huebner’s RBI. Freshman Logan Kellerman doubled down the left-field line to score Huebner, leaving the Paladins 5-3 over the Buckeyes at the end of the third inning.
Furman’s turnaround gave way to a grudge match between the two teams. As Ohio State earned runs in the top of the innings, the Paladins battled back.
The Buckeyes finished the top of the fifth 8-5 over the Paladins, who put up two more runs, courtesy of a home run from Taplett and a single to right field from redshirt sophomore David Webel that scored freshman Jordan Starkes.
Both teams scored a run in the sixth inning. Taplett’s single through the right side helped Boswell score, bringing the tally to 9-8 in favor of Ohio State.
The Buckeyes put another run on the board in the seventh inning to increase their lead over the Paladins to 10-8. Furman failed to score in both the seventh and eighth innings. Ohio State did not score in the top of the ninth, and the Paladins needed two more runs to tie the game.
In the bottom of the ninth, after two throwing errors by the Buckeyes, Furman sophomore MJ Sasapan advanced to second base, and Huebner advanced to third. A ground ball by freshman Anthony Fontana scored Huebner. Webel then hit a single to score Sasapan and tie the game. Neither weather issues nor the efforts of a Big Ten team with a superior record could make the Paladins shy away, forcing a tenth inning.
Ohio State failed to score a run in the top of the tenth, and with one out and only two more to go until the teams saw an eleventh inning, Boswell hit a home run to left field. He made his way around the bases to home, where his team had already rushed the field.
When asked about the game, Boswell said, “it was an awesome team win for all of us. We had to battle up and bounce back multiple times, and we always had each other’s backs. It was a great game, and I think it gives us a lot of momentum moving forward.”
The Paladins went on to beat USC Upstate 7-4 Wednesday, March 13. The victory over Ohio State, which almost did not happen, could be the much needed turning point to Furman’s season.