Upstate Baseball to Make Inaugural Appearance in A-Sun Championship Wednesday
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – When the Spartans take the field Wednesday morning against Mercer, the USC Upstate baseball team will be making its first-ever appearance in the Atlantic Sun Conference Baseball Championship after a five-year transition from Division II to Division I.
The Spartans will square off with the Mercer Bears in the tournament opener Wednesday at 11 a.m. Upstate dropped all three contests this past weekend at Mercer as the Bears spoiled any chance the Spartans had of clinching a regular-season crown.
The first three days of the tournament will air free on ASun.TV, with Saturday's championship game to air on ESPN3. Live stats will be available as well as updates via twitter: @UpstateSpartans / #UpstateBSB.
• The 2012 season marks the first season of full NCAA Division I eligibility for the Spartans... After a five-year transitional phase from D-II to D-I, Upstate is eligible for postseason play.
• Head Coach Matt Fincher is in his 15th season at the helm of the Spartan baseball program.
• Upstate will make its inaugural appearance in the A-Sun Championship when it battles Mercer Wednesday morning at 11 a.m.
• Wednesday's contest will be the fourth-straight contest between Upstate and Mercer... The Bears took all three from the Spartans in Macon, Ga., this past weekend... The trio of wins secured a berth in the championship for the Bears, while ending the Spartans shot at a regular-season crown.
• The Spartans lost its fourth game in a week due to weather as rain/lightning ended the club's chances at knocking off No. 1 South Carolina... Upstate lead 3-0 after the top of the second before the rain/lightning set in... After more than 2.5 hours of waiting, the contest was finally cancelled.
• Upstate, after leading 9-1 after four innings, rallied for a 12-11 victory over Kennesaw State (May 12) on Senior Night... Senior Austin Liput drove in the game-winning runs with a RBI double to the gap in left center... Jordan Stampler and Gaither Bumgardner scored to complete the comeback... Upstate took an early 6-0 advantage when Trey Richardson belted the first grand slam in more than two calendar years to cap the big first inning... Bumgardner was the last Spartan to record a grand slam (Apr. 3, 2010, vs. Jacksonville).
• Ben Augenstein earned the win in relief against the Owls as the junior tossed 1.1 innings of scoreless baseball to improve to 4-1 on the season... Chad Sobotka closed out the contest as he retired the Owls in order to pick up his 12th save of the season and tie the single-season school record (Bradley Blanks, 2006).
• Since dropping all three contests at Belmont (Apr. 6-7), the Spartans have won 13 of their last 16 contests... At 33-15, Upstate is just three wins shy of tying the school-record for wins (36, 1987 [NAIA]).
• Gaither Bumgardner's run of 15 consecutive trips on base and 11 straight hits came to a close with a first-inning ground out at Stetson (May 4)... In each category, he fell just three shy of the NCAA record... For the week (May 1-6), Bumgardner batted .667 (16-24, 3 Doubles) with nine runs and eight RBI.
• Upstate overcame a season-high five errors to pick up its 30th win of the season with a 15-3 victory at Georgia State (May 2)... Gaither Bumgardner highlighted the Spartan offense with a 5-for-5 effort to go along with six RBI and two runs... Ben Augenstein earned the win after scattering six hits and three unearned runs in 6.2 innings of work (career-high five strikeouts)... Chris Knauff closed the door on the Panthers, allowing one hit while striking out one... The Spartans also drew a season-best 13 walks in the contest.
• Against Wofford (May 1), the Spartans rallied to tie the contest at six with a three-run ninth, but Wofford responded with the game-winning run in the bottom of the frame.