April 14, 2012

Spartans Take Down Bucs, 8-7, in 11 Innings

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – Luke Weber (Spartanburg, S.C.) drove in Gaither Bumgardner (Fort Lawn, S.C.) to score the game's final run in the top of the 11th as the USC Upstate baseball team secured its fourth series win of the season with an 8-7 victory over ETSU Saturday at Thomas Stadium.

ETSU, who dipped to 16-17 overall and 4-10 in league play, took a 1-0 advantage when Dylan Pratt homered to open the bottom of the second inning.

The Spartans (24-12, 9-5) took the lead as they sent eight men to the plate in the fourth and scored four runs on five hits and one error.  With one out, Austin Liput (Oviedo, Fla.), Weber and Greg Guers (Langhorne, Pa.) connected on back-to-back-to-back singles.  Liput was able to tie the contest at one on Guers' RBI single through the right side, but Guers was tagged out 9-2-6-3 for the second out of the inning.

After Tyler Miller (Fort Mill, S.C.) walked, Dillon Way (Orangeburg, S.C.) drove in Weber with a single up the middle to give the Spartans a 2-1 advantage.  Miller plated the third run of the inning when Trey Richardson (Lakeland, Fla.) reached on a fielding error by ETSU shortstop, Kerry Doane.  The final run of the inning came on a Brody Greer (Honea Path, S.C.) single to center field.  Way scored (unearned) on the single, but Richardson was tagged out at third to end the innings.

The Spartans were able to increase the lead two five with a pair of runs in the fifth.  Weber drove in Jordan Stampler (Davie, Fla.) with two outs in the inning, allowing Upstate to take a 5-1 lead.  The Spartans added another run when Weber scored (unearned) after a throwing error allowed Way to reach first.  Third baseman Chris Riopedre's throw to first pulled Clinton Freeman off the bag and allowed the inning to continue.

Matthew Scruggs scored his second run of the game as he scored from second on Corey McPherson's RBI single to left center.

Upstate added a single run in the seventh to push the lead back to five runs at 7-2.  Weber scored his third run of the contest and second straight unearned run when Way delivered a sacrifice fly to left.

ETSU began its comeback attempt with four runs in the bottom of the frame.  With two outs in the inning and Andrew Green standing on second, Clinton Freeman singled through the right side, allowing Green to score and close the gap to four runs (7-3).  Freeman's single signaled the end of the day for Upstate starter Scott DeCecco (Cape May Courthouse, N.J.).

Andrew Wyant (Newton, N.C.) replaced DeCecco on the mound and the first pitch he tossed, Matthew Scruggs connected on a two-run homer down the left field line.  Dylan Pratt gave the Bucs back-to-back homers with a solo homer to left, his second solo blast of the game.  Pratt's homerun trimmed Upstate's lead to just one run (7-6).

With ETSU down to their last strike, Dylan Pratt connected on his third homerun of the game as he sent a 0-2 offering from closer Chad Sobotka (Sarasota, Fla.) over the wall in left to send the contest, tied at seven, into extra innings.

After the two teams traded zeros in the 10th, the Spartans broke through with a single run in the top of the 11th.  With Bumgardner standing on third and two outs, Weber connected on his fourth hit of the contest, a RBI single to the gap in right center.  Bumgardner's run proved to be the game-winning run as Sobotka retired the final three batters he faced after surrendering a lead-off walk to Andrew Green.

Sobotka (3-0) picked up the win after allowing one run on one hit with two walks and two strikeouts in 3.1 innings of relief.  ETSU reliever Clinton Freeman was tagged with the loss (1-1) after giving up one run on three hits with four punch outs in four innings on the mound.

Weber paced the Spartan offense with four hits, three runs and two RBI, while Stampler, Bumgardner, Liput and Guers all tallied two hits in Saturday's contest.  Way, who had just one hit in his first appearance of the weekend, scored two runs.

ETSU's four and five hitters (Scruggs and Pratt) combined for five hits (four homeruns), five runs and five RBI.

The Spartans and Bucs will meet in the series finale tomorrow afternoon with first pitch slated for 1:05 p.m.  Junior, right-hander Brandon Lee (Palatka, Fla.) will get the start on the mound for Upstate as the squad looks to claim its second series sweep of the season.  Lee owns a 4-3 record in 2012 with a 2.81 ERA.  ETSU will counter with sophomore, right-hander Jake Long (2-3, 2.26).