JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – Austin Liput (Oviedo, Fla.) finished a double shy of the cycle and drove in three runs and scored three as the USC Upstate baseball team downed ETSU, 6-4, in the series opener Friday night at Thomas Stadium.
The Spartans (23-12, 8-5 Atlantic Sun) staked a 2-0 lead with one swing of the bat in the top of the first. With Gaither Bumgardner (Fort Lawn, S.C.) standing on first, Liput, batting in the three-hole for just the third time this season, sent a 3-2 offering over the wall in right. Liput's second homerun of the year gave Upstate a two-run advantage.
ETSU (16-16, 4-9) responded with three runs in the bottom of the frame. Chris Riopedre scored on a RBI single to right center by Clinton Freeman, trimming the Spartan lead to one (2-1). The Bucs took the lead, 3-2, when Matthew Scruggs connected on a two-run homer to left, his 13th homerun of the campaign.
After the two teams posted zeros on the scoreboard in the second, the Spartans tacked on a pair of runs in the top of the third. With one out in the inning, Jordan Stampler (Davie, Fla.) homered down the left field line to knot the contest at three apiece.
After a groundout by Bumgardner, Liput and Luke Weber (Spartanburg, S.C.) followed with back-to-back singles and Liput stole third, giving Upstate runners at the corners with two away. Liput was able to score and give Upstate a 4-3 advantage on a wild pitch by John Long.
The Spartans scored two more runs in the top of the fifth, pushing the lead to three runs at 6-3. Bumgardner drew a one-out walk and was able to score when Liput hit his fourth triple of the year. Weber followed with a RBI double to left center allowing Liput to score his third run of the contest and extend the lead to three runs.
In the eighth, ETSU closed the gap to two runs (6-4) when Matthew Scruggs connected on his second homer of the contest, a solo blast to left center. After Andrew Green singled, Andrew Wyant (Newton, N.C.) replaced starter David Roseboom (Pattersonville, N.Y.). Wyant tossed just four pitches as he forced Dylan Pratt to ground into a double play and struck out Kerry Doane.
Chad Sobotka (Sarasota, Fla.) relieved Wyant to start the ninth and Sobotka retired the Bucs in order to pick up his eighth save of the season.
Roseboom (6-1) earned the win after surrendering four runs on seven hits with four walks and five strikeouts in seven innings of work.
ETSU starter John Long (5-4) went the distance, allowing six runs on seven hits with two walks and six punch outs.
Aside from Liput's strong night at the plate, the Spartans were led by Weber (two hits, one RBI), Bumgardner (one hit, two runs) and Stampler (HR, one RBI, one run).
Matthew Scruggs led ETSU with two hits (both homeruns) to go along with three RBI and two runs.
The two teams will battle in the second game of the three game A-Sun set tomorrow afternoon at 2:05 p.m. Junior, left-hander Scott DeCecco (Cape May Courthouse, N.J.) who owns a 4-1 record and a 3.11 ERA will take the hill for the Spartans. The Bucs will counter with rookie right-hander Kuehl McEachern (0-0, 1.74).