DeLAND, Fla. – Trailing 6-3, the Spartans threatened in the ninth as the club loaded the bases with two outs; however, the USC Upstate baseball team was unable to push across any runs as Stetson tied the weekend series at one-all with victory Saturday night at Melching Field.
Despite falling to the Hatters, the Spartans (31-14, 14-6 Atlantic Sun) maintain their position atop the A-Sun standings with North Florida's 4-1 victory over Belmont. The Hatters, meanwhile, improve to 30-16 overall and 12-8 in league play.
Upstate, like it did on Friday night, scored first. Jordan Stampler (Davie, Fla.) and Gaither Bumgardner (Fort Lawn, S.C.) led off the third with back-to-back singles and the pair moved into scoring position on Austin Liput's (Oviedo, Fla.) sacrifice bunt. Luke Weber (Spartanburg, S.C.) followed with a two-RBI single to left to give the Spartans the 2-0 advantage.
Stetson was able to tie the contest at two with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third. Spencer Theisen scored the first run of the inning on Sam Kimmel's RBI single up the middle. The Hatters evened the contest when Kimmel scored (unearned) on Mark Jones RBI single.
The Hatters took the lead (5-2) thanks to three runs in the home half of the fifth inning. Mark Jones highlighted the Stetson fifth with a two RBI single up the middle.
With one out in the sixth, Greg Guers (Langhorne, Pa.) doubled to right field and was able to score on Tyler Cook's (Bloomington, Ill.) RBI single to right. Guers' run closed the gap to just two runs at 5-3.
Stetson scored the game's final run in the bottom of the eighth as the club pushed the lead back to three (6-3). The Hatters registered one run on one hit but left the bases loaded.
Stampler drew a walk to open the ninth and the Spartans had a pair of base runners in scoring position after Bumgardner doubled down the left field line. After a fly out by Liput and a pop out by Weber, Guers drew a walk to load the bases. Cook followed but struck out swinging on a 2-2 offering to end Saturday's contest.
Lindsay Caughel (6-2) earned the win after allowing three runs on seven hits in six innings of work. During his 94-pitch outing, Caughel walked two batters and struck out three. Robbie Powell earned his A-Sun leading 14th save of the season after tossing 1.1 innings of scoreless baseball.
Spartan starter Scott DeCecco (5-2, Cape May Courthouse, N.J.) took the loss despite pitching three perfect frames (second, fourth, sixth). DeCecco pitched into the eighth, allowing three runs (six total) on six hits with three walks and five strikeouts.
Bumgardner led the Spartans at the plate with a 4-for-5 effort and one run while Weber totaled two RBI on just one hit.
Mark Jones paced Stetson with a 2-for-4 effort and three RBI.
The Spartans and the Hatters will meet in the rubber game tomorrow afternoon with first pitch slated for 1 p.m. Junior Brandon Lee (RH, Palatka, Fla.) is slated to get the start for Upstate, while Stetson will likely counter with Will Dorsey (Sr., RH).