DeLAND, Fla. – The Spartans sent all nine men to the plate in the first as the club scored five runs and limited Stetson to just six runs as USC Upstate claimed the series with the five run victory Sunday afternoon at Melching Field.
The Spartans who won their third-straight Atlantic Sun series improve to 32-14 overall and 15-6 in league play. With six league games remaining, Upstate now boasts a two game lead over Belmont, who fell 6-2 to North Florida Sunday. The Hatters, who fell to 30-17 overall, are now tied for third in league play with Kennesaw State at 12-9.
With two outs in the first and Jordan Stampler (Davie, Fla.) standing on second, the Spartans loaded the bases as Luke Weber (Spartanburg, S.C.) was hit by a pitch and Greg Guers drew a walk. Tyler Cook (Bloomington, Ill.) followed with a two-RBI single up the middle allowing Stampler and Weber to score. Brandon Patterson (Polk City, Fla.) followed with a triple to the gap in left center as Guers and Cook scored to give Upstate a 4-0 advantage. Patterson scored the final run of the frame on a RBI single by Trey Richardson (Lakeland, Fla.)
Stetson scored a single run in the home half of the first when Sam Kimmel crossed home plate (unearned) on Mark Jones' sacrifice fly to center.
The two teams traded zeros until the fourth when each squad tallied two runs during their respective at-bats.
Brody Greer (Honea Path, S.C.) walked to open the fourth and moved to second on Stampler's sacrifice bunt. After Gaither Bumgardner (Fort Lawn, S.C.) was hit by a pitch, Austin Liput (Oviedo, Fla.) tripled to right allowing Greer and Bumgardner to score, pushing the lead to six runs (7-1).
Liput's triple was his seventh of the season and he is now just one shy of tying the single-season school record, again. Last season, Liput tallied eight triples to tie Chris Sturgill's (1988) 23-year old record. For his career, Liput has 16 triples and is three shy of tying Bret Hansen's (2004-07) record of 19.
Mitchel Brennan tripled with one out in the fourth and scored on Trey Blackman's RBI groundout. Stetson scored its second run of the inning when Tanner Blackman scored from third when Spencer Theisen singled through the right side, cutting the Spartan lead to four (7-3).
The score remained the same until the top of the eighth when Greg Guers (Langhorne, Pa.) drove in Bumgardner with a bases-loaded single to left. Liput pushed the Spartan lead back to six (9-3) when he scored on Cook's sacrifice fly to right.
In the bottom of the frame, the Hatters scored three runs (two unearned) to climb within three, 9-6, heading to the final inning.
The Spartans scored the final two runs of the contest in the ninth to set the final tally at 11-6. Richardson led off the inning with a double to left center and scored on Bumgardner's single up the middle. Bumgardner later scored on Weber's single to center.
Upstate closer Chad Sobotka (Sarasota, Fla.) pitched a perfect ninth inning to secure the win for the Spartans and allow starter Brandon Lee (Palatka, Fla.) to improve to 7-3. Lee allowed two runs (three total) on seven hits with one walk and five strikeouts in six innings on the hill. Ben Augenstein (Sebastian, Fla.) allowed one run (three total) on five hits in two innings of relief.
The loss was credited to Stetson starter Will Dorsey and the Hatter righty falls to 6-4 on the season. Dorsey surrendered five runs on four hits and one walk during his 28-pitch outing.
Liput (two RBI) and Richardson led the Spartans with three hits each, while four other Spartans recorded multiple hits in the finale. Bumgardner scored three times and the duo of Cook/Patterson combined for five RBI.
Sam Kimmel led the Hatters with two hits and two runs Sunday.
The Spartans will return to the friendly confines of Harley Park for a 6 p.m. first pitch Tuesday night against The Citadel.