SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The 2012 USC Upstate baseball campaign will begin Friday afternoon when the Spartans host Eastern Michigan. First pitch at Harley Park is slated for 4 p.m.
The Spartans will also battle Ball State (Sat., 4 p.m.) and Kentucky (Sun, 3 p.m.) during opening weekend.
In the 2011 season-opener, the Spartans posted an eight-run first inning en route to a 16-4 victory over George Mason (2/18). The Spartans fell to Xavier, 8-6, Feb. 19 and closed out opening weekend with a 9-5 victory over Iona (2/20).
• The 2012 season marks the first of full NCAA Division I eligibility for the Spartans... After a five-year transitional phase from D-II to D-I, Upstate is eligible for postseason play.
• Head Coach Matt Fincher begins his 15th season at the helm of the Spartan baseball program.
• Upstate's first 11 games of the season will take place at the friendly confines of Harley Park.
• Upstate rookie pitcher David Palladino was a 13th-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
• Austin Liput tied a school-record with eight triples in 2011... Liput's RBI triple in the bottom of the eighth in the series finale vs. Mercer brought home Gaither Bumgardner and tied the game at 3-3.
• Luke Weber connected on his 20th double of the season against The Citadel (5/11) and tied the school-record... He is just the third player in program history to tally 20 doubles in one season.
• The Spartans totaled 20 hits in the 13-9 win over Kennesaw State (5/7) and it marked the first time in nearly two years that the Spartans tallied 20 hits (North Florida, 22 hits, L, 16-21, May 9, 2009, DH Game 1).
• Scott DeCecco carried a no-hitter into the fifth and tied a career-high with 8.1 innings pitched at The Citadel on Apr. 23... DeCecco tossed 125 pitches allowing just two runs on seven hits to pick up his fourth win of 2011... Jake Waller recorded the final two outs against the Bulldogs and earned his first career save.
The Scouting Report – Opening Weekend
• Eastern Michigan will send junior right-hander Steve Weber to the hill in the season opener... Weber posted a 6-3 record a season ago with a 4.31 ERA... Senior Brent Ohrman led the squad with 20 stolen bases in 2011... The Eagles wrapped up the 2011 season with a 37-22 record.
• Ball State is coming off of a 15-35 (11-15 MAC) campaign in 2011... Senior Tim Issler led the team with a .330 average last season... Nestor Bautista will start on the mound for the Cardinals Saturday... The southpaw finished his freshman campaign 0-5 with a 9.11 ERA.
• Kentucky posted a 25-30 mark overall and finished 8-22 in the SEC last season... Returning for his senior season is Thomas McCarthy... He was the team's leader in BA (.371), hits (78), doubles (19) and home runs (7) last season... Corey Littrell will start on the mound for UK Sunday... The sophomore left-hander finished 2011 with a 6-6 mark and a 6.95 ERA.
Bumgardner Named Preseason All-A-Sun
Upstate junior Gaither Bumgardner was named a Preseason All-A- Sun Second-Team infield selection by College Sports Madness. Bumgardner, who appeared in 42 games a season ago, finished second on the team with a .371 batting average. He finished his sophomore campaign with 59 hits, 30 runs, 28 RBI and 14 free passes (11 walks, 3 hit-by-pitch).
Bumgardner tallied 21 multiple-hit games and seven multiple-RBI contests in 2011. He closed the season on a 13-game hit-streak (4/20/11 to 5/20/11). His streak included a stretch of five consecutive contests in which he recorded multiple hits (5/11/11 to 5/19/11). He posted a season-high four hits against North Florida (DH Game 2, 3/19/11), while tallying three RBI in three different games (George Mason, 2/18/11; Iona, 2/20/11; Charleston Southern, 3/16/11).
Bumgardner also made 10 appearances (nine starts) on the mound for the Spartans in 2011. He posted a 1-4 record with a 5.79 ERA over 46.2 innings of work. His lone victory came against North Florida (DH Game 1, 3/19/11) as he tossed a complete game shutout as the Spartans claimed a 2-0 victory. Bumgardner fanned a career-best nine batters, while scattering seven hits and two walks over the course of his 130 pitch outing.
Spartans Tabbed 10th in Preseason A-Sun Coaches Poll
Entering its first full season of Division I eligibility, the USC Upstate baseball team was selected 10th in the A-Sun Preseason Coaches' Poll released Feb. 1 by the league office in Macon, Ga.
Last season, the Spartans finished 19-36 overall and were eighth in the conference after posting a 10-18 mark in league play.
Cook Named Thomas L. Smith Scholarship Recipient
On Feb. 14, 2012, senior outfielder Tyler Cook was named the seventh recipient of the Thomas L. Smith scholarship by USC Upstate head baseball coach Matt Fincher
A native of Bloomington, Ill., Cook becomes just the second Upstate player to earn the Thomas L. Smith Scholarship twice. He played at University High School before arriving in Spartanburg in the fall of 2007. At University, he earned three letters in baseball and finished his senior campaign with a .486 batting average, 11 doubles, four triples and 34 RBI. He also earned First-Team Class AA All-State honors after his senior season. Cook also earned two letters in both football and basketball during his prep career.
Cook redshirted his first year in the program (2008) and in 2009 he appeared in 16 games and made six starts. He collected first collegiate hit and his first run against Army (2/27/09). In 18 chances in the outfield, he made just one error.
As a sophomore in 2010, Cook batted .315 with eight doubles, three triples and three home runs. He also drove in 34 runs and scored 32 runs in 46 games (45 starts). During an eight-game hit streak from March 7-19, Cook collected a total of 15 hits including a three-hit and four-hit performance against Florida Gulf Coast.
In 2011, Cook made 52 starts for Upstate and finished the season with a .235 average, eight doubles two triples and one home run. He scored 36 runs and drove in 23, while earning 32 free passes (25 BB, 7 HBP). He also tallied 12 sacrifice hits as a junior, which was just one shy of tying a single-season school record.