Upstate Set For Third Courtyard By Marriott Classic

Feb. 26, 2010

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. - After a midweek sweep of defending CAA champions, Georgia State, the USC Upstate baseball team will get back on the diamond this weekend, co-hosting the 2010 Courtyard by Marriott Baseball Classic with Wofford. Upstate will host five games at Cleveland S. Harley Baseball Park, including playing in three, and Wofford will play four games at Russell C. King Field. Although the tournament starts on Friday, the Spartans will open play on Saturday when defending Atlantic 10 champions Dayton come to Harley Park for a 4 p.m. game. On Sunday, the Spartans will play a 10 a.m. game against New Jersey Tech before Butler comes to Harley Park for a 2 p.m. game.

The Spartans used power in crucial situations to down Georgia State, with a sixth-inning grand slam from Jimmy Tanner helping Upstate take a 9-7 win on Tuesday. On Wednesday, it was Andre Harris leading off the seventh with a solo homer and then coming back to drive in two more with a single to cap the seven-run inning that helped Upstate to an 8-5 win.

Quick Hits
• Junior Jimmy Tanner is currently 11th in school history with 186 hits, just six from the top 10 in school history, where Eric Guillen '09 sits with 192 career hits.

• Sophomore Blake Green is eight hits away from becoming the 45th player in school history to reach 100 career hits.

• Freshman Ryan Newell has been impressive in his two relief outings this year, posting a 1-0 record with a save and striking out 10 in seven innings.

• The team's two top leading batters, sophomores Austin Liput and Tyler Cook, both hit under .200 as freshmen. Liput is batting .364 and Cook is at .357 through the first five games.

• The Spartans have four freshmen that were a part of the 2009 SCBCA North/South All-Star weekend in Gaither Bumgardner, Bobby Jackson, McCrae Norton and Brody Greer all appeared at the event.

• Upstate will have three first pitch honorees this weekend, with Brian Simpson doing the honors before Saturday's game with Dayton and Greg Houston and Todd Ellison tossing before Sunday's game with Butler.

The K Zone
Senior Matt Branham has made leap after leap in his strikeouts during his career at USC Upstate, jumping from 39 strikeouts as a freshman to 57 as a sophomore before sitting down a school-record 82 as a junior. Now, Branham needs to break his own school record for single-season strikeouts to set the school record in career punchouts, needing 77 more strikeouts this season to reach the mark after punching out six in the opener against Appalachian State.

Hitman
Senior Jimmy Tanner will look to pick up right where he left off in 2009, as he established career highs this season in nearly every offensive category, including hits (81), batting average (.354), runs (41), RBI (34), doubles (15), walks (28) and slugging percentage (.430). Tanner needs six hits to enter the top 10 in school history in career safeties, entering the weekend with 186 hits.

Young Arms
The Spartan pitching staff has been anchored so far this season by a bevy of freshman arms, with rookies accounting for 20 innings pitched, 19 strikeouts and just six walks. The four freshman who have seen time on the mound thus far have also combined for a 1.80 ERA. The group has been led by Ryan Newell, who has a win and a save in relief. He has a 1.29 ERA through seven innings and he has struck out 10. Gaither Bumgardner also has a 1.29 ERA in seven innings and Chris Knauff is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in four innings.

Cookin'
Sophomore Tyler Cook posted his first career RBI with a two-run homer against Georgia State on Feb. 23. The 6-2 outfielder, for good measure, added another RBI later in the game with a single. Cook, who appeared in just 16 games as a redshirt freshman, hitting .176, is currently second on the team with a .357 average, four runs and four RBI.

Down Goes The Champ
For the third straight year, the USC Upstate baseball team has beaten a team that won a conference title the year before, as Upstate swept a home-and-home midweek with defending CAA champions, Georgia State, this week. The Spartans won on Tuesday, 9-7, thanks to a sixth-inning grand slam from Jimmy Tanner and on Wednesday, 8-5, with the help of a solo homer and a two-RBI single in the sixth inning from Andre Harris. In 2009, the Spartans downed defending A-10 champs, Charlotte, 4-3 and in 2008, Upstate beat both defending A-Sun regular-season champs Stetson and tournament champs, Jacksonville.