February 26, 2012

Lee’s Complete Game Propels Upstate to Series Sweep

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Brandon Lee (Palatka, Fla.) needed just 105 pitches as he tossed a complete game shutout Sunday against Eastern Kentucky as the USC Upstate baseball team picked up a 4-0 win and the series sweep at Harley Park.

Lee, who tripled his first outing in a Spartan uniform (3.0 IP, Kentucky, 2/20/12), struck out 12 Colonels.  With 12 punch outs, Lee becomes the first Spartan since Matt Branham to tally 10 or more strikeouts in a single contest (3/2/10, George Washington).  Lee's complete game is just the second of the D-I era for the Spartans (Gaither Bumgardner, 3/19/11, North Florida).

After Eastern Kentucky (2-5) went three up, three down in the first, the Spartans (6-1) got all the offense they needed in the home half of the inning.  With Tyler Cook (Bloomington, Ill.) standing on first, Luke Weber (Spartanburg, S.C.) hit a fly ball to left that was dropped by Colonel left fielder, Jacob Daniel.  The error allowed Cook to score all the way from first and Weber wound up at second.

Eastern Kentucky and Upstate traded zeros on the scoreboard until Upstate scored again in the bottom of the fifth.  Jordan Stampler (Davie, Fla.) was able to reach first base thanks to a throwing error by Richie Rodriguez.  Rodriguez's errant throw found its way into the first base dugout allowing Stampler to advance to second. 

After Cook used a sacrifice bunt to move Stampler to third, Gaither Bumgardner (Fort Lawn, S.C.) delivered a double down the right field line as Stampler gave the Spartans a 2-0 lead.  With the run in the fifth, the Spartans have now scored 21 runs in the fifth inning this year, while opponents have managed 21 total runs (seven games).

The Spartans doubled their lead in the bottom of the seventh when Weber delivered a two-RBI single to center as Stampler and Cook came around to score and set the final tally at 4-0.

Lee, who walked just one batter, earned his first win in a Spartan uniform and improves to 1-1 on the season.  Meanwhile, Eastern Kentucky starter Shane Grimm (0-2) took the loss after two unearned runs scored during his six inning outing.  Grimm gave up six hits and one walk with three strike outs.   

The Spartans were led at the plate by Cook, Weber and Tyler Miller (Fort Mill, S.C.) the trio combined for six of Upstate's nine hits.  Stampler and Cook each scored twice, while Weber drove in a pair.

Eastern Kentucky was retired in order four times and managed just four hits on the afternoon.  Richie Rodriguez led the Colonels with a 2-for-4 effort in the series finale.

Upstate will return to action Wednesday afternoon when it hosts Georgia State at Harley Park.  First pitch between the Spartans and the Panthers is slated for 4 p.m.