February 24, 2012

Spartans down Eastern Kentucky, 12-6, in Series Opener

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Greg Guers (Langhorne, Pa.) tallied a pair of two-out, two-RBI singles Friday to lead the Spartans over visiting Eastern Kentucky, 12-6, at Harley Park.

Eastern Kentucky (2-3) plated the first run of the contest when Dustin Dunlop singled to third, allowing Shaun Ball to score, putting the Colonels ahead, 1-0, in the top of the first.

The Spartans (4-1) responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning.  With two outs and runners at second and third, Guers singled up the middle with two outs to give the home team a 2-1 advantage.  Guers single allowed Jordan Stampler (Davie, Fla.) and Gaither Bumgardner (Fort Lawn, S.C.) to score.

After the two teams went scoreless in the second inning, both squads posted three runs in the third inning.  Ball, Dunlop and Richie Rodriguez scored to give Eastern Kentucky a 4-2 advantage heading to the bottom of the third.

With the bases loaded and just one out, Austin Liput (Oviedo, Fla.) reached on a fielder's choice allowing Bumgardner and Guers to score as the Spartans tied the contest at four.  Upstate took a 5-4 lead when Tyler Miller (Fort Mill, S.C.) hit a double to the gap in right center allowing Liput to score.

The Spartans tacked on a total of four runs during the middle innings to take a 9-3 lead after six complete innings.  Guers recorded another two-out, two-RBI single in the fourth, while Miller tallied his first home run of the season in the fifth inning.  In the sixth, Luke Weber (Spartanburg, S.C.) hit a double off of the wall in center field as Bumgardner trotted home from third after a triple to right field.

The Colonels closed the gap to three runs (9-6) and had runners on the corners with just one out in the top of the eighth inning.  Chad Sobotka (Sarasota, Fla.) relieved Chris Knauff (Marietta, Ga.) and the Spartan rookie tossed just two pitches in the inning as he forced an inning-ending double play.

Upstate pushed the lead to six, 12-6, with three runs in the home half of the eighth.  The inning was highlighted by Miller's two-RBI single to center field.

Sobotka closed the door on the Colonels as he retired the visitors in order in the ninth to earn his first collegiate save.

Upstate's Ben Augenstein (Sebastian, Fla.) earned his first win as a Spartan after relieving starter David Roseboom (Pattersonville, N.Y.) after three innings.  Augenstein (1-0) allowed just one run on six hits with two strikeouts in four innings of work.

Aside from Guers' 2-for-3 performance with four RBI and two runs, the Spartans were led by Bumgardner (3-for-5, four runs) and Miller (3-for-4, four RBI, two runs).

Shaun Ball led the Colonels at the plate with a 4-for-5 effort and two runs.  Eastern Kentucky starter Matt Harris (0-1) took the loss after allowing seven runs on four hits and five walks with two strikeouts in 3.1 innings on the mound.

The Spartans and Colonels will battle in the middle contest of the series tomorrow with first pitch slated for 2 p.m.

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