GREENSBORO, N.C. – With a 9-6 win over North Carolina A&T Tuesday, the USC Upstate baseball team picked up its 26th win of the campaign, a new Division-I era high for the Spartans.
Upstate, who won 25 games in its first season of D-I play (2008), improved to 26-12 overall with the win at War Memorial Stadium, while North Carolina A&T dips to 13-24 in 2012.
With one out in the first inning, Gaither Bumgardner (Fort Lawn, S.C.) collected the game's first hit as he hit a sharp, low line drive off of the foot of Aggie starting pitcher Shane Carter. Bumgardner advanced to second on a groundout by Austin Liput (Oviedo, Fla.). Luke Weber (Spartanburg, S.C.) followed with a walk to give the Spartans a pair of base runners with two outs in the inning.
The Spartans, like they did during most of Sunday's contest at ETSU, found success with two-outs as Greg Guers (Langhorne, Pa.) connected on a three-run homerun to right, giving the Spartans a 3-0 lead after the top of the first.
Upstate starter Chris Cox (Simpsonville, S.C.) retired the Aggies in order in the first and needed just 11 pitches to do so.
After the Spartans were retired in the second, North Carolina A&T connected on their first hit of the contest, a leadoff single up the middle by Kelvin Freeman. Luke Tendler appeared follow with a single through the right side, but a great sliding stop and throw over to first by Liput retired Tendler.
One right fielder, Dairio Little, flew out to the other, Tyler Miller (Fort Mill, S.C.), for the second out of the inning. The Aggies had runners at the corners after a walk by Stefan Jordan and Freeman's steal of third, but Colby Keene struck out swinging to end the inning.
With one out in the fourth, Guers ended Aggie pitcher Shane Carter's streak of eight straight retired batters with a single to third base. After Miller lined out to short, Dillon Way (Orangeburg, S.C.) followed with a single through the right side, allowing Guers to advance to third. Guers scored on a RBI single to right by Tyler Cook (Bloomington, Ill.) to push the lead to 4-0. It was both the fourth run and fourth RBI with two outs in the game for the Spartans.
The Aggies scored their first runs of the game in the bottom of the frame as they cut the Spartan lead in half. With runners on second and third and one out, Stefan Jordan singled to right allowing Luke Tendler to score the first run of the contest for the Aggies. With the bases loaded and still just one out, Michael Radford delivered a RBI ground to second and Dairio Little scored to close the gap to two at 4-2. Carvell Copeland ended the Aggie fourth with a groundout to Cox.
The Aggies made a pitching change to open the fifth inning as Joe Mackey replaced Shane Carter on the hill. With one out, Bumgardner doubled to right center to give the Spartans a runner in scoring position. Liput followed with a single as his pop up dropped in no man's land in left center. With runners on the corners, Weber singled through the left side allowing Bumgardner to score. After Guers singled to load the bases, Miller delivered a sacrifice fly to left, enabling Liput to score and increase the Spartan lead to four (6-2).
North Carolina A&T again cut the Spartan lead in half, this time the home-standing Aggies plated one run in the bottom of the fifth. With two outs in the inning, Luke Tendler delivered a RBI triple to the gap in right center as the Aggies set the tally at 6-3 in favor of the Spartans after five complete innings.
After the Spartans posted a zero on the scoreboard in the sixth, rookie right-hander L.J. Newman (Piedmont, S.C.) came out of the bullpen to replace Cox. Newman walked the first two batters he faced, but recovered and retired the next three to keep the Aggies off of the scoreboard in the sixth.
Liput opened the seventh inning with a triple off of the wall in right center and scored easily on Weber's RBI single up the middle. Liput's second run of the contest gave the Spartans a 7-3 advantage heading to the bottom of the seventh.
Marquis Riley opened the bottom of the frame with a triple down the right field line. Riley was able to score on Luke Tendler's RBI groundout as the Aggies climbed back within three runs (7-4).
In the eighth, the Spartans were able to load the bases with just one out. Brody Greer (Honea Path, S.C.) was hit by a pitch and Jordan Stampler (Davie, Fla.) followed with a single to left. Bumgardner then reached on a fielder's choice as Greer advanced to third on a error by Aggie third baseman, Luke Tendler. Liput followed with a RBI groundout as Greer scored, unearned, to give the Spartans a four-run lead at 8-4.
With no outs and Stefan Jordan standing on second, Brandon Wilkerson doubled to right center and ending the day for Newman as Andrew Wyant (Newton, N.C.) replaced the rookie on the mound. Wyant allowed an inherited run to score on two hits, but did record the first out of the inning. Jake Waller (Phoenixville, Pa.) replaced Wyant on the mound and thanks to a diving catch by Cook in left and as well as a fly out, the Spartans escaped further trouble and held a two-run advantage (8-6) heading to the ninth.
Guers gave the Spartans a three-run lead as he scored from second when Way reached and advanced to third on a throwing error by Aggie relief pitcher, Jamal Clark.
Chad Sobtoka (Sarasota, Fla.) made his way to the mound in the ninth and looked to close out the game for the Spartans, who led 9-6 heading to the bottom of the frame. After surrendering back-to-back singles Sobotka forced Michael Radford to ground into a game-ending 1-6-3 double play to pick up his ninth save of the season. Cox earned the win and improved to 2-0 after pitching five complete innings Tuesday. He surrendered three runs on five hits with four walks and two strikeouts.
Guers paced the Spartans with a 3-for-4 effort, three runs and three RBI, while Bumgardner, Liput, Weber and Cook all tallied two hits.
Aggie starter Shane Carter was tagged with the loss and dips to 1-1 on the season. Carter gave up four runs on five hits in four innings of work. Stefan Jordan led the Aggies at the plate with a 3-for-3 effort to go along with two walks, one run and one RBI.
Upstate will return to action tomorrow when they host Wofford at Harley Park. First pitch between the Spartans and the Terriers is slated for 6 p.m. Ben Augenstein (Sebastian, Fla.) will get the start for the Spartans, while Wofford will counter with Pete Noordsy.