Spartans Close Out Opening Weekend with Victory over Iona

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – On Sunday afternoon at Harley Park, the USC Upstate baseball team seven runs in the second inning and starting pitcher Philip Brannon (Spartanburg, S.C.) gave up just five hits as he was credited with the win in his season debut as the Spartans downed Iona, 9-5.

The Spartan second inning started with Trey Richardson (Lakeland, Fla.) reaching first base on a throwing error by Iona shortstop Matthew Kriss.  After a fly out by Joe Barnes (Lake Orion, Mich.), Austin Liput (Oviedo, Fla.) doubled down the left field line, giving Upstate a pair of runners in scoring position.

Upstate (2-1) cracked the scoreboard when Gaither Bumgardner (Fort Lawn, S.C.) singled in both Richardson and Liput came in to score, putting the Spartans in front, 2-0.  Bumgardner was able to advance to second on the play.

Bumgardner scored the third run of the inning after Dillon Way (Orangeburg, S.C.) delivered a RBI single to left field.  After a single by Tyler Miller (Fort Mill, S.C.) and a walk by Blake Green (Rock Hill, S.C.), Tyler Cook (Bloomington, Ill.) delivered a single to left field and advanced to second on an error by Iona's right fielder, Joe Smith.  Way and Miller scored on Cook's hit and the Spartans, leading 5-0, again had a pair of runners in scoring position, this time with two outs.  Richardson made his second plate appearance in the inning and the sophomore drove in both Green and Cook with a single to left field. 

The Spartans tacked on a single run in the fourth as Grason Wiggins (Statesboro, Ga.) scored on Liput's sacrifice fly to left.

In the seventh, Iona (0-3) posted back-to-back singles and Anthony Muccio was hit by a Jake Waller (Phoenixville, Pa.) pitch to load the bases for the Gaels. With just one out, Iona cut the lead in half as Nick Rossetti hit a grand slam over the left field wall.

After a pitching change, Andrew Wyant (Newton, N.C.) recorded back-to-back outs to end the Iona threat in the seventh inning.

Each team scored a run in the eighth as the final tally was set at 9-5, in favor of the homestanding Spartans.

Miller led the Spartans at the plate on Sunday as he finished a perfect 4-for-4 and scored one run.  Liput and Bumgardner each collected two hits and combined for four RBI and three runs.

Iona pitcher Thomas Kriss was tagged with the loss after pitching just 3.1 innings, giving up eight runs (six earned) on eight hits. 

Upstate will return to action on Tuesday as they continue their eight-game homestand to open the season when it hosts Virginia Tech at 4:00 p.m.