Spartans Open Season with a Bang, Down George Mason 16-4
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – For the first time since May 5, 2009, the USC Upstate baseball team scored eight runs in a single inning, as Upstate scored eight runs in the first inning en route to a 16-4 opening day victory over the George Mason Patriots at Harley Park.
The last time Upstate tallied eight runs in a single inning, was in the third inning against Wofford during the 2009 season. Upstate claimed a 13-2 victory over the Terriers at Harley Park.
Left-hander Scott DeCecco (Cape May Couthouse, N.J.) got the start on the hill on Friday for the Spartans and the sophomore didn't disappoint in his season-debut. DeCecco earned the win after pitching five innings, allowing just two runs on two hits while fanning six Patriot batters.
In the bottom of the first inning, with Grason Wiggins (Statesboro, Ga.) standing on first base, Tyler Cook (Bloomington, Ill.) doubled down the right field line allowing Wiggins to score the first run of the season for the Spartans. After Trey Richardson (Lakeland, Fla.) struck out for the second out of the inning, the Spartans tacked on seven runs to take an 8-0 lead after the first.
Joe Barnes (Lake Orion, Mich.) started the two-out scoring with a double down the right field line, bringing Cook around to score. After Jacob Tavernier (Anderson, S.C.) was hit by a pitch and Dillon Way (Orangeburg, S.C.) was walked, sophomore Gaither Bumgardner (Fort Lawn, S.C.) delivered a bases clearing triple, putting Upstate ahead 5-0.
Bumgardner scored on Tyler Miller's (Fort Mill, S.C.) single to right field. Upstate's final two runs of the inning came when Miller scored (unearned) on Wiggins' RBI single and Blake Green scored when George Mason's Christopher Cook committed a throwing error.
After the Spartans eight-run first inning, the Patriots were retired in order as Shane Davis struck out swinging, followed by a pair of groundouts by Nick Allen and Blaise Fernandez.
The Spartans increased the lead to 9-0 in the home half of the second inning when Way scored on a sacrifice fly by Miller.
George Mason got on the scoreboard in the third when Brig Tison tripled down the right field line bringing Jake Kalish and Christopher Cook around to score.
The Spartans tacked on three runs in the fifth to increase the lead to 10 runs at 12-2. Upstate scored four more runs, in the bottom of the seventh, as the Spartans took a 16-2 lead after seven complete innings.
Patriot first baseman Zack Hegelson hit a two-run homer over the left field wall and the final tally was set at 16-4.
DeCecco was lifted after five innings of work and Ryan Newell (Marietta, Ga.) was credited with a save after pitching the final four innings, allowing two earned runs on three hits while striking out two.
The Spartans had several offensive leaders on Friday afternoon and were paced by Miller's 3-for-5 effort at the plate, including three RBI and two runs. Way also collected three hits and scored three runs on opening day.
Wiggins, Richardson, Barnes, Tavernier and Bumgardner all had two hits on Friday as Upstate totaled 16 runs on 17 hits.
George Mason starter Chris O'Grady got the start, but pitched just 2/3 of an inning as eight Spartans scored (six earned) on five hits. O'Grady also walked one and hit one Spartan batter. The Patriots used a total of six pitchers on the afternoon and only one pitcher (Jake Kleine) pitched more than two innings.
Brig Tison led the Patriots with a 2-for-4 effort at the dish and had two RBI and scored one run.
Upstate will host Xavier tomorrow with first pitch at Harley Park slated for 4:00 p.m.