CHARLESTON, S.C. – Trey Richardson (Lakeland, Fla.) picked a great time to record his first hit of the season as the junior drove in Greg Guers (Langhorne, Pa.) in the top of the ninth as the USC Upstate baseball team downed The Citadel Tuesday night at Riley Park.
After the Bulldogs (6-6) tied the contest at five in the bottom of the eighth, the Spartans had their three, four and five hitters due up in the top of the ninth.
After a pair of groundouts by Gaither Bumgardner (Fort Lawn, S.C.) and Luke Weber (Spartanburg, S.C.), Guers doubled to right field to give the Spartans (11-1) their first runner in scoring position since the sixth inning. Richardson, who entered his final at-bat of the evening 0-11 on the season, tallied his first hit and first RBI of the season as Upstate took a 6-5 lead.
"It was definitely a clutch time for my first hit of the season," said Richardson. "I wasn't thinking about my average, I was more focused on the team and how we battled throughout the entire game. Guers' double got everyone in the dugout fired up and fortunately I was able to come through for the team."
In the bottom of the ninth, Spartan closer Chad Sobotka (Sarasota, Fla.) closed the book on the Bulldogs as the rookie retired all three batters he faced in the ninth.
Sobotka entered the game in the eighth with runners on first and second, but gave up the game-tying hit as he lost the bid for save number five of 2012. Richardson's game-winning hit gave Sobotka his first collegiate victory and he now owns a 1-0 mark on the season to go along with his four saves.
Upstate plated the first run of the contest when Luke Weber's (Spartanburg, S.C.) fly ball fell in fair territory along the left field line allowing Tyler Cook (Bloomington, Ill.) to score with two outs in the first.
The Spartans were able to push the lead to 3-0 thanks to a pair of runs in the top of third. Cook scored thanks to a fielding error by center fielder Nick Orvin. Weber recorded his second RBI of the evening as he singled to left, allowing Bumgardner to score.
The Spartans were able to maintain the 3-0 thanks until the fifth inning when The Citadel finally broke through. Spartan starter David Palladino (Emerson, N.J.) allowed just two hits over the first five innings, while retiring nine straight batters during one stretch.
The rookie gave up his first run of the contest when Joe Jackson doubled to left center as Bailey Rush scored to cut the Spartan lead to two, 3-1.
Upstate responded with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth inning as Jordan Stampler (Davie, Fla.) delivered a two-RBI single up the middle as Tyler Miller (Fort Mill, S.C.) and Austin Liput (Oviedo, Fla.) scored.
The Bulldogs responded with three runs in the home half of the sixth highlighted by a two-run homer by Tyler Griffin. Griffin's home run ended Palladino's night after 5.2 innings as Chris Cox (Simpsonville, S.C.) made his sixth relief appearance of the year.
Cox found himself in a jam in the seventh as The Citadel loaded the bases with just one out. Jordan Rusk (Longwood, Fla.) replaced Cox and recorded a pair of pop outs to end the Bulldog threat.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Bulldogs tied the contest when Joe Jackson tallied a RBI single to center field.
The Spartans recorded the 11th and final run of the contest in the top of the ninth inning as the club improved to 11-1 and tallied its ninth straight win.
Jordan Stampler (Davie, Fla.), Cook and Weber all tallied two hits to lead the Spartans Wednesday night. Stampler and Weber also drove in a pair of runs each, while Cook scored a pair of runs.
Bulldog reliever Ryan Hines (1-1) was tagged with the loss after allowing one run on two hits in the ninth inning. Joe Jackson led the attack for The Citadel as the catcher/first baseman finished 3-for-5 at the plate and two RBI.
The Spartans will close out the two-game road swing with a 2 p.m. contest Wednesday afternoon at Charleston Southern.