Despite Standout Outing by DeCecco, Spartans Fall to Stetson to End A-Sun Tournament Run
DeLand, Fla. – Despite getting an unbelievable effort by starter Scott DeCecco, a run in the second inning spelled the difference as Stetson took a 1-0 victory over the Spartans in the first elimination game of the A-Sun Tournament Thursday afternoon at Melching Field. Upstate, the No. 2 seed, was eliminated from the tournament with the loss.
Upstate ended its season with a 33-20 record, just three wins off the all-time school record. The year was a vast success for the Spartans. Upstate remained at the top of the A-Sun standings throughout the season and finished second with a 16-10 league mark. Gaither Bumgardner (Fort Lawn, S.C.) was named the A-Sun Player of the Year, while head coach Matt Fincher took home Coach of the Year honors in the conference. Austin Liput (Oviedo, Fla.) and David Roseboom (Pattersonville, N.Y.) were second team all-conference selections, while Chad Sobotka (Sarasota, Fla.) and Greg Guers (Langhorne, Pa.) were all-freshman selections. Tyler Cook (Bloomington, Ill.) was an A-Sun Academic All-Conference honoree.
The game between Upstate and Stetson was a stark contrast from the three-game series during the regular season. The teams combined for 38 runs over three games with the lowest scoring affair coming in a 6-3 Stetson win in the second game of the series. The teams also combined for 65 hits for an average of a little more than 21 hits a game. Thursday, the teams combined for just one run on eight hits. In the end, Stetson got a standout pitching performance of its own in starter Will Dorsey, who went the distance in the two-hit shutout.
"It was a great game and I am really appreciative of DeCecco's effort today ," said Upstate head coach Matt Fincher. "After yesterday, he came out and gave us the effort we needed today. Dorsey was magnificent. We couldn't hit him. He didn't' give us many opportunities to score. We had a couple, but we just couldn't score."
After Stetson opened the game with back-to-back singles, Upstate got out of the inning when DeCecco (Cape May Courthouse, N.J.) got a 6-4-3 double play and a strikeout looking to end the threat without a run crossing the plate.
Upstate got an unlucky break in the second inning. After Kurt Schluter singled to lead off the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, DeCecco struck out Robert Bruce on a swinging strike. However, the pitch was low and in the dirt and skipped away allowing Bruce to advance to first while putting runners on the corners with just one out. Trey Blackman followed with a high chopper ground out to second which should have been the third out of the inning, but instead scored Schluter from third to give the Hatters a 1-0 lead.
Upstate shortstop Brody Greer (Honea Path, S.C.) came up with a strong defensive play to limit the damage in the second inning. With runners on the corners and two outs, he ranged behind the bag and into the outfield grass on a grounder from Robert Crews and got Crews by two steps at first to end the inning with just one Hatter scoring.
Other than when Stetson scored its run in the second, the offensive opportunities were few and far between as DeCecco and Dorsey engaged in a pitcher's duel. Dorsey allowed a single to Jordan Stampler (Davie, Fla.) to lead off the first inning for Upstate. He then retired 22-straight batters until Tyler Cook (Bloomington, Ill.) singled to left center in the bottom of the eighth. DeCecco scattered five singles through eight innings, allowing just the one run. He retired 14 of the last 15 batters he faced through eight innings.
Schluter also came up big defensively in the bottom of the eighth. Guers lined a shot down the line, but the first baseman made a diving stab to record the out on what would have been either a double or triple. Cook then came up with a single, but Upstate's second unlucky play of the game resulted in an inning-ending double play. On a hit and run, Dillon Way (Orangeburg, S.C.) fouled out to third and Cook was doubled off when he had already rounded second and couldn't get back to first in time.
Stetson's Ben Carhart singled to begin the ninth and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. DeCecco left the game after turning in a tremendous effort for the Spartans. He allowed just one run on six hits. Upstate turned to Sobotka to squash the Stetson threat and he delivered. With a runner on third and one out, Stetson attempted a suicide squeeze, but Sobotka fielded the bunt cleanly and fired home to get Carhart out at the plate, keeping Upstate within a run.
Upstate was called out on a couple of close plays at first in the bottom of the ninth and despite putting a runner on first, could not push anything across.
Dorsey earned the win for Stetson by going the distance. He allowed just two Upstate hits and struck out two to improve to 8-5. The Hatters improved to 35-22 on the year and will face the winner of the game between Mercer and Florida Gulf Coast. DeCecco fell to 5-3 on the year despite allowing just one run on six hits and striking out five.