FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate baseball team rallied for three ninth inning runs Sunday afternoon, capped by a walk-off two-run single by Tyler Lesch to send the Spartans into celebration with a 6-5 victory over Marshall at Harley Park in non-conference action.
Entering the ninth inning trailing 5-3, the Spartans (8-2) needed a big rally to complete their second consecutive three-game weekend sweep and they did just that. Patterson got the rally started with a one-out double to right center and Trey Richardson followed and lined a single to left center to cut the Herd (3-7) lead to just one at 5-4.
Marshall relief pitcher Matt Margaritonda then created a mess for himself when he walked two of the next three batters to load the bases with two outs. Tyler Miller and Jordan Stampler coaxed the walks, sending Lesch to the dish with the game on the line. After getting ahead in count 2-1, Lesch sent a looping liner down the left field line that fell in front Chase Vogelbach and brought Miller and Richardson racing home for the 6-5 walk-off victory.
"A lot of those at bats in the ninth were key," said USC Upstate Head Coach Matt Fincher. "I thought Richardson had great at bat and Lesch got just enough of the ball and found a spot where we could win the game."
Brody Greer (1-0) was credited with the win in relief as he tossed the ninth inning and gave up a run on one hit. Augenstein got the start and lasted 5.0 innings, giving up three runs on six hits and striking out three.
Marshall broke out in the fifth inning and scored the first three runs of the game, but Upstate proved resilient in the sixth frame with a pair of runs thanks to a Luke Weber sacrifice fly and Greer racing home on a wild pitch.
"I think as the later innings progressed we seemed to be getting better at bats and we were staying off some pitches we had swung at earlier in the game," Fincher said.
The two teams traded runs in the eighth inning and the Herd added what appeared to be an insurance run in the ninth for a Marshall victory, but the Spartans had other plans in mind and rallied their way to a weekend sweep.
"That game is an example of how to beat an outstanding pitcher, because in the end we didn't beat their starter, we got into the bullpen and that's what you have to do," Fincher said. "Their starting pitcher (Blair) was great and it's good for us to see a guy like that and compete against him."
Entering Sunday's action, the Spartans had failed to score a run in the eighth or ninth inning all season, but Upstate managed to put up four runs over the final two frames to cap a perfect weekend.
The Spartans will travel to Gardner-Webb for a Wednesday matchup with the Runnin' Bulldogs, before returning home to welcome Akron to town for a three-game weekend set March 8-10 at Harley Park.