February 29, 2012

Palladino Leads Spartans to 4-1 Victory Over Georgia State

Spartanburg, S.C. – Freshman hurler David Palladino pitched seven strong innings to lead USC Upstate to a 4-1 victory over visiting Georgia State in non-conference baseball action Wednesday afternoon at Harley Park.

Upstate improved to 7-1 on the year and extended its winning streak to five games with the win. The Spartans will face Albany Saturday afternoon at 1:00 at Harley Park looking to extend their winning streak to six games. Georgia State fell to 5-4 on the season.

Palladino was strong throughout his start. He started the game with a pair of strikeouts and ended his outing with two strikeouts in the seventh. In between, he allowed just one run on five hits and totaled seven strikeouts to earn the win and improve to 2-0 on the year.

"My teammates had my back today," said Palladino, a freshman from Emerson, N.J. "I left some pitches over the plate and my teammates made some nice plays to help me out. There were some hard-hit balls, but my team had my back. Coach (Dusty) Blake worked with me after my last start. He talked to me about getting over my front side. Everything felt in place today. It was good."

In addition to Palladino's efforts, reliever Chris Cox (Simpsonville, S.C.) came in to toss a scoreless eighth inning and closer Chad Sobotka (Sarasota, Fla.) turned in a 1-2-3 inning in the ninth.

"I was real happy with the pitching," said Upstate head coach Matt Fincher. "David did a lot better this week than he did last week, and I think that's what you want to see is improvement, particularly out of your freshman. I think he had much better command. He pitched well and was the reason we won the game."

Upstate looked like it would break the game open in the bottom of the first. After a two hits and a fielding error, the Spartans had the bases loaded with no outs. Luke Weber (Spartanburg, S.C.) drove in a run on a sacrifice fly. However, Greg Guers (Langhorne, Pa.) grounded into an unconventional 1-3-6 double play to end the inning and the threat.

Georgia State responded in the top of the second inning when Mark Hogan doubled with one out and scored on Joey Wood's single to left to tie the score at 1-1. Upstate moved back on top with a run in the bottom of the second when Brody Greer (Honea Path, S.C.) and Austin Liput (Oviedo, Fla.) singled to lead off the inning to put runners on the corners with no outs. After a double play left a runner on third, Greer scored on a wild pitch to give the Spartans a 2-1 lead.

Following a productive first two innings, the teams settled in and played solid defense. The game remained a 2-1 Upstate advantage until the bottom of the sixth.

Dillon Way began the sixth with a single, but Georgia State got two outs. That's when Guers smacked his double into right field to score Way from first. Greer followed with a triple to give the Spartans a 4-1 lead through two-thirds of the game.

Georgia State came back in the top of the seventh to put runners on second and third with one out after a single by Wood, a walk by Caden Bailey and sacrifice bunt to move the runners over. Palladino, who reached 100 pitches in the inning, got pinch hitter Landon Bennett to strikeout looking at a called third strike for the second out of the inning. He then got Drew Shields to strike out swinging to end the threat.

Georgia State put a runner on first with no outs to open the eighth, but Upstate's Cox got Brandon Williams to ground into a 5-4-3 double play.

Upstate took a 4-1 lead into the top of the ninth and gave the ball to Sobotka. Sobotka retired the side in the ninth for his third save of the season. He got a strike out, ground out and strikeout to end the game and give the Spartans their fifth-straight win.

Greer led the Spartans at the plate with two hits, a run and RBI. Jordan Stampler also picked up a pair of hits on the day.

"Brody has worked hard on his hitting and had a good game," said Fincher. "We are hopeful he will continue to develop and deliver for us. He is certainly an outstanding shortstop."

Joey Wood led Georgia State at the plate with two hits. Panther starting pitcher Max Schmitz dropped to 1-1 on the year after giving up two runs on three hits in five innings of work.

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