Eight-Run Fifth Propels Spartans Past Eagles in Series Finale
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate baseball team sent 12 batters to the plate in the bottom of the fifth and scored eight runs en route to a 10-2 victory over Florida Gulf Coast Sunday afternoon at Harley Park.
Brandon Lee (Palatka, Fla.) earned the win for the Spartans after pitching eight complete innings, allowing just four hits and one earned run (two total) with six strikeouts and no walks. With Sunday's victory, Lee improves to 4-2 on the season and as a team the Spartans are now 21-7 and 7-2 in the Atlantic Sun.
FGCU (10-18, 4-5) plated the game's first run in the top of the first when Ryan Gebhart scored (unearned) when Sean Dwyer reached on a fielder's choice and advanced to second thanks to a throwing error by Upstate shortstop Brody Greer (Honea Path, S.C.).
Eagle starter Brandon Bixler was able to keep the Spartans in check until the fifth inning. After walking the first two batters he faced, Jordan Stampler (Davie, Fla.) laid down a sacrifice bunt and reached on a throwing error by Bixler. Brandon Patterson (Polk City, Fla.) scored Upstate's first run on a sacrifice fly by Tyler Cook (Bloomington, Ill.) to tie the contest at one.
With Stampler on second and Greer on third, Gaither Bumgardner (Fort Lawn, S.C.) tripled to the gap in right center, pushing the Spartans lead to two, 3-1. Bumgardner scored the fourth run of the inning when Luke Weber (Spartanburg, S.C.) singled to left. Tyler Miller (Fort Mill, S.C.) followed with a double to right and Austin Liput (Oviedo, Fla.) delivered a two-RBI single up the middle to increase the lead to five at 6-1. Patterson capped the big inning with a two-RBI double down the right field line as Upstate staked an 8-1 lead after five innings.
The Eagles recorded their first hit since the first inning when Sean Dwyer singled to center to open the seventh. FGCU stranded a pair of runners in the inning allowing the Spartans to maintain the seven run lead.
The Spartans added a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame to increase the lead to 10-1. Miller scored when Greer drew a bases loaded walk and Trey Richardson (Lakeland, Fla.) scored on a sacrifice fly by Stampler.
FGCU scored the final run of the contest in the top of the eighth when Ryan Gebhart hit a solo homer over the wall in right center.
Brandon Bixler (2-4) took the loss after allowing three runs (four total) on two hits and six walks. In 4.1 innings of work, Bixler struck out three while tossing 94 pitches.
The Spartans five, six and seven hitters (Miller, Liput and Richardson) combined for six of Upstate's nine hits, while posting four RBI and four runs Sunday.
Ryan Gebhart paced FGCU as he scored both runs, while tallying two hits and one RBI.
The Spartans will close out the six-game homestand Tuesday night when they host Davidson College at 6 p.m.