SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Four years ago, USC Upstate began a journey to join the NCAA Division I ranks and pending approval by the NCAA Board of Governors, Upstate will become an active member of D-I on Sept. 1, 2011. With the transitional phase nearly complete, the media relations office takes a look back at some of the top moments of the transitional phase, today's spotlight, baseball.
On July 1, the top 10 moments of the transition were compiled into an online web poll and thanks to the votes of Spartan fans, the final tally is in. Without any further ado, here are the top three moments of the transitional phase for Upstate baseball.
Moment No. 3
DeCecco, Knauff combine for a shutout of No. 20 Stetson
Apr. 1, 2011
Entering the Friday night tilt with A-Sun leader Stetson, the Spartans had never recorded a victory over a nationally-ranked opponent since making the move to D-I and it would be a tall task against the conference leading Hatters. Stetson, which entered the contest 20-6 overall and 7-2 in league play, had won eight of its last 10 contests, including a 6-4 victory at No. 8 Florida State.
Upstate knew it would need a strong effort from its pitching staff to attempt to silence the Stetson bats. Thanks to the arms of a pair of lefties, the squad got the effort it needed to knock off the nationally-ranked Hatters.
Scott DeCecco (Cape May Courthouse, N.J.) got the start and used 117 pitches to toss seven frames of shutout baseball as he scattered six hits while recording four punch outs. Over the first four innings, DeCecco allowed just two hits and three base runners while the Spartans pushed their lead to 4-0.
The southpaw ran into a jam in the top of the fifth inning, as Stetson loaded the bases with just one out with the top of the lineup due up. DeCecco got the Hatters' number one and two batters to fly out to centerfield, thus ending the threat. Stetson again loaded the bases in the sixth, but DeCecco struck out Ryan Lashley to thwart another Stetson threat.
Chris Knauff (Marietta, Ga.) entered the game on the mound in the top of the eighth and picked up right where DeCecco left off. Knauff closed the door on the Hatters with a pair of shutout innings as he allowed three hits and struck out two.
Knauff's only jam came in the eighth, when Stetson had two base runners in scoring position with two outs. He was able to get Spencer Theisen to pop out to end the eighth and followed with a scoreless ninth, giving the Spartans the 6-0 victory.
Moment No. 2
Green becomes new single-season hits leader
May 14, 2011
With a single to right field in the bottom of the eighth inning against The Citadel on May 11th at Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C., Upstate senior Blake Green (Rock Hill, S.C.) set the stage for a memorable day at Harley Park just three days later.
When Green arrived at Harley Park on Saturday afternoon for a conference game against Mercer, he needed just one hit to tie Brad Wingo's (2006) single-season hits record of 83. On May 14th, the Rock Hill, S.C., native would tie, break and extend the record all in one game.
Green stepped into the batter's box in the bottom of the first, looking for the right pitch in his first attempt at tying the record. On a 3-2 pitch, Green secured hit number 83 of the season, a single to third base.
In the bottom of the third, Green hit a line drive that appeared to be heading for the outfield grass, but shortstop Evan Boyd made a diving grab to rob Green of the record-setting hit. Green came up empty again in the bottom of the fifth when he popped out to second.
An inning later, Green proved that third time is the charm, as he finally broke through and recorded the record-setting hit. With two outs in the sixth, Green singled back up the middle to record hit number 84 of the 2011 season.
Green, however, was not done and was able to extend the record in his final at-bat. In the home half off the eighth, Green, aided by two Mercer outfielders calling each other off, doubled to left center to push his season total to 85.
Green added two hits in the finale against Mercer and totaled eight hits at Campbell, including a 4-for-5 effort in his final collegiate game to finish the season with 95 hits and a .399 batting average.
Moment No. 1
Bumgardner cages Ospreys with complete game shutout
Mar. 19, 2011
It took just 1:58 and 130 pitches, but Upstate's Gaither Bumgardner (Fort Lawn, S.C.) ended nearly a year and a half drought as he picked up his first career victory on Mar. 19, 2011 against North Florida. Not only did Bumgardner earn the win, he went the distance, pitched a shutout and struck out a career-best nine batters.
Bumgardner's complete game shutout was the first for the Spartans in the D-I era and the first since Matt Branham's complete game shutout of Augusta State on Mar. 17, 2007.
The right-hander retired seven of the first eight batters he faced, before running into trouble in the top of the third. UNF had runners on first and second with just one out and eventually loaded the bases with two outs but were unable to cash in on its opportunity as Bumgardner struck out Michael Wesner to end the inning.
After back-to-back perfect innings, Bumgardner again kept the Ospreys off of the scoreboard, this time stranding Wesner at third with a strikeout of Kyle Dahl to end the sixth.
Bumgardner's final challenge of the afternoon came in the top of the eighth inning, as UNF had a pair of base runners in scoring position with just one out. He was able to thwart the Osprey rally as Wesner hit a fly ball to shallow center that was tracked down by Blake Green, and another strikeout of Dahl.
Bumgardner wrapped up the complete game shutout with a scoreless ninth inning and Upstate claimed the 2-0 victory. The shutout of UNF marked the end of Ospreys streak of scoring at least one run. The streak was halted at 111 games and dated back to Mar. 18, 2009 when the Ospreys fell on the road at Florida International by a score of 3-0.
The media relations office will continue to release the top three moments from each sport leading up to the first athletic competition of the 2011-12 academic year, a women's soccer exhibition match against Spartanburg Methodist College on Aug. 16 at 6 p.m.
Men's Basketball (Aug. 3)
Women's Basketball (Aug. 4)
Men's & Women's Cross Country (Aug. 5)
Men's & Women's Golf (Aug. 8)
Men's Soccer (Aug. 9)
Women's Soccer (Aug. 10)
Softball (Aug. 11)
Men's & Women's Tennis (Aug. 12)
Men's & Women's Track and Field (Aug. 15)
Volleyball (Aug. 16)