Upstate Baseball Picks Up A-Sun Honors as Bumgardner Named Player of the Year and Fincher Garners Coach of the Year Honors
Spartanburg, S.C. – After turning in the best season during the program's Division I era and one of the top campaigns in program history, the USC Upstate baseball team was heavily honored Tuesday when the A-Sun released its annual award winners and all-conference team. The Spartans took home two of the league's four top individual awards as outfielder Gaither Bumgardner was named the A-Sun Player of the Year and head coach Matt Fincher was named the league's Coach of the Year.
In addition to player of the year honors, Bumgardner was named a first team all-conference selection. He was joined on the all-conference team by second team selections David Roseboom (P, So., Pattersonville, N.Y.) and Austin Liput (2B, Sr., Oveido, Fla.). Two other Spartans were honored by the league as relief pitcher Chad Sobotka (Fr., Sarasota, Fla.) and outfielder Greg Guers (Fr., Langhorne, Pa.) were named to the A-Sun All-Freshman team.
Bumgardner, a junior from Fort Lawn, S.C., emerged as a leader on an Upstate team that stands 33-18 overall and finished second in the A-Sun with a 16-10 league record. He is hitting a league-best .386 on the year entering the A-Sun Tournament. He leads the Spartans and ranks third in the conference with 76 hits, while collecting 11 doubles, 32 RBIs and 43 runs.
Bumgardner tops Upstate with 21 multi-hit games and has the team's longest streak of reaching base in 21 straight games. He is currently on a seven-game hitting streak. He was named the A-Sun Player of the Week following the week of May 6 after posting 11 straight hits and reaching base in 15 straight at bats, garnering national attention. He was also named the Southeast Baseball Player of the Week by College Baseball insider.
Fincher, in his 15th season as head coach of the Upstate program, has seen the fruits of his labor pay off this season. He earned his first coach of the year honor after leading Upstate to a 33-win season, just three off the all-time school record. It marks the first time since the Spartans moved to the A-Sun in 2008 that they have reached the 30-win plateau and just the eighth time in the history of the program, four of which have come under the leadership of Fincher.
Picked to finish 10th in the preseason coaches poll, Upstate remained at the top of the A-Sun standings throughout the season and eventually claimed second place, eight spots ahead of where it was predicted. The Spartans earned a spot in the A-Sun Tournament in the program's first full year of Division I eligibility.
Roseboom was one of the top pitchers in a strong pitching unit at Upstate. He finished the regular season with a team-best 2.91 ERA and tied for the team lead with seven wins. He has struck out 62 in 80.1 innings and held opponents to a .236 batting average. He ranks eighth in the A-Sun in ERA and fourth in opponent batting average. He led the Spartans in conference play, finishing the year with a 2.85 ERA with four wins.
Liput leads the A-Sun with seven triples in 2012. He ranks second on the team with a .330 batting average, while topping the club with five home runs. He is tied for second on the team with 36 RBIs and is tied for the team lead with 43 runs scored. Strong throughout the season, he was even better in A-Sun play. He hit a team-best .380 against league teams, hitting four of his five home runs during conference play. He ranks second on the team with 20 multi-hit games and leads the Spartans with 12 multi-RBI performances.
Sobotka took over the reigns as the go-to pitcher late in games and has turned in a standout season as Upstate's closer. He was named to the Stopper of the Year Midseason Watch List by the National College Baseball Writers Association. He finished the regular season with a 3-0 record and a 1.76 ERA in 30.2 innings of work. He ranks second in the A-Sun with 12 saves on the year, six coming during A-Sun play. He earned key saves in wins over Lipscomb (2), North Florida, East Tennessee State, Jacksonville and Kennesaw State to help the Spartans stay at the top of the league standings throughout the year.
Guers turned in a solid rookie campaign, finishing the year with a .310 batting average. The third-ranked hitter on the Upstate team, he started 41 games. He is tied for second on the team with four home runs and is third with 37 runs. His 36 RBIs is tied for second on the team, while his 11 doubles is tied with Bumgardner for tops on the Spartans.
Upstate opens A-Sun Tournament play Wednesday morning at 11:00 against #5 seed Mercer. Fans can follow the action on upstatespartans.com.