Spartans Fight Back For Split With Stetson
DeLAND, Fla. - With a dead-on laser of a throw, senior Jimmy Tanner (Fayetteville, Ga./Starr's Mill) gunned down the Atlantic Sun Conference's fourth-best thief, catching Spencer Thiesen in a steal attempt for the elusive 27th out as the USC Upstate baseball team managed a split in a Saturday doubleheader at Melching Field, winning the second game in a wild manner, 8-7, after falling in a run-rule shortened 19-7 game one.
Senior Tyler Oliver (Lawrenceville, Ga./Collins Hill) moved into a tie for fourth place in school history with his eighth career save, as he threw two innings, allowing just one hit and two walks to earn the hard-fought save. He struck out one.
With an 8-6 lead in the bottom of the eighth, the Spartans (16-33 overall, 6-18 A-Sun) saw Stetson (25-24 overall, 12-9 A-Sun) load the bases with a single, a double and a walk, chasing junior Philip Brannon (Spartanburg, S.C./Spartanburg Methodist College) from the mound after one of the gutsiest performances of his career.
Oliver came on looking to protect the lead and immediately gave up a single into center field by Kurt Schluter. However, as the ball was delivered back to the infield, the Hatters' runner that reached third overran the bag and then the Spartans' throw to cut the runner down was thrown away. As the Hatters' runner got up to head home, freshman Gaither Bumgardner (Fort Lawn, S.C./Great Falls) chased the caroming ball off the third base wall and tossed it home, where Tanner laid the tag on the runner. Oliver got the next batter to ground back to him and after a walk reloaded the bases, he got a popup that freshman shortstop Brody Greer (Honea Path, S.C./Belton-Honea Path) backpedaled into short left to catch.
In the ninth, Oliver got a strikeout before Thiesen walked. After a pop-up, Thiesen took off on the first pitch to the next batter after Oliver had tossed over to first to check him twice. Tanner's throw was on and sophomore second baseman Austin Liput (Oviedo, Fla./Trinity Prep) delivered the tag to end the game.
Down 6-4 in the sixth inning, Upstate chipped into the Stetson lead with a run. Sophomore Austin Moyer (Greensboro, S.C./Southeast Guilford) led off with a walk and Greer delivered a double to right center to follow. Bumgardner followed with a single through the right side, but Greer held up at third and a strikeout and a failed safety squeeze kept the Spartans behind by a run.
Upstate took the lead with a pair of runs in the seventh, though, as Liput led off with a single to left center and sophomore Tyler Cook (Bloomington, Ill./University) followed with another single to left field. Moyer delivered a perfect sac bunt and Greer hit a hard grounder that hit off the heel of the shortstop's glove to tie the game. Bumgardner followed with a single into center field to score Cook. Upstate got another important insurance run in the eighth inning with a solo homer to left center field.
The Spartans scored three runs to start the game, as senior Brian Dempsey (Montverde, Fla./East Ridge) led off with a drag bunt single, taking second on a throwing error and third on a sac bunt by junior Blake Green (Rock Hill, S.C./Northwestern). Tanner drove in Dempset with a single and after a strikeout, Liput walked to bring up Cook, who delivered a two-run triple to right center. The Hatters came right back though by scoring five unearned runs in the bottom of the inning thanks to three hits and two Upstate errors.
In the third, Upstate cut the lead to 5-4, as Cook doubled with two outs and Moyer followed with another double to the gap in left center. Stetson responded, though, with an unearned run in the bottom of the fifth to take the 6-4 lead.
Cook led the Spartans, going 3-for-4 with two runs, a double, a triple and two RBI and Dempsey and Bumgardner each also added three hits. Tanner posted two hits, two runs and an RBI and Liput notched a two-run, two-hit game.
Aaron Crittenden posted two runs, two RBI and two hits and Kurt Schluter added two hits and three RBI to lead the Hatters.
Brannon (3-7) pitched well despite giving up six unearned runs, as he tossed a career-high seven-plus innings to earn the win. He allowed eight hits and one earned run, walking three and striking out six. Will Dorsey (3-3) took the loss for the Hatters, allowing three hits and two runs in 2/3 innings.
Senior Jimmy Tanner (Fayetteville, Ga./Starr's Mill) became the first player in school history to reach 250 career hits as he posted a first-inning opposite field single, but Stetson scored 19 runs in the second through fifth innings in order to take a 19-7 win from the Spartans in the first game of the doubleheader.
The Hatters got on the board first in the bottom of the second inning, as they scored four runs on five hits, but the damage could have been worse if not for a leaping catch by left fielder Tyler Cook (Bloomington, Ill./University) as he hit the wall. Upstate got on the board in the following inning, as senior Brian Dempsey (Montverde, Fla./East Ridge) hit an opposite field homer to left field for his first career shot in 364 at bats.
Stetson kept the pressure on in the third inning, scoring five more runs thanks to seven singles to take a 9-1 lead. The Hatters added seven more runs in the fourth inning on four hits and four walks and got three more in the fifth to take a 19-1 lead, as Aaron Crittendon hit a two-run homer in the inning.
The Spartans cut into the lead in the sixth inning by scoring four runs on four hits as freshman Trey Richardson (Lakeland, Fla./George Jenkins) singled with one out and sophomore Austin Liput (Oviedo, Fla./Trinity Prep) drew a 3-2 walk. Cook followed with a single into right to load the bases and after a strikeout, junior Blake Green (Rock Hill, S.C./Northwestern) delivered a double into left field. Sophomore Jeff Medley (Greensboro, N.C./Southeast Guilford) followed with a hot shot that hit off the first baseman's glove and scored two more runs.
Upstate got two more runs in the seventh inning as Richardson reached on an error and Liput followed with a double over the center fielder's head before Cook hit a Texas Leaguer to right field to score Richardson. Freshman Brody Greer (Honea Path, S.C./Belton-Honea Path) followed with an infield single to score another run, making the final margin, 19-7.
Kurt Schluter led the Hatters, going 4-for-4 with three runs, two doubles, a homer and five RBI and Spencer Thiesen went 3-for-5 with two runs and three RBI. Crittenden and Nick Rickles also each added three RBI and Sean Emory and Jacob deGrom each added three runs.
Lindsey Caughel (5-4) threw five innings to earn the win, allowing five hits and a run. He struck out four. Freshman Scott DeCecco (Cape May Courthouse, N.J./Middle Township) (1-6) allowed four hits and four runs in 1 1/3 innings to take the loss. He walked three and struck out one.
The Spartans are back in action on Tuesday when they visit the College of Charleston for a 6 p.m. game in Mt. Pleasant.