Spartans Fall 5-3 to Northern Kentucky in Series Opener

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: David Beall,
 dbeall@uscupstate.edu

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate baseball team came up short in its attempt to rally from a five-run deficit Thursday evening, falling 5-3 to Northern Kentucky University at Harley Park in Atlantic Sun Conference action.

The Spartans (13-11, 2-5 A-Sun) continue their recent struggles and drop their third consecutive conference series opener, while the Norse (3-22, 1-3 A-Sun) pick up their first victory in the last 17 games and earn the program's first league victory in school history.

Trailing 5-0 heading to the last of the sixth inning, Upstate finally came alive at the plate, recording three consecutive hits to plate the first run of the day for the Spartans. Gaither Bumgardner led off the frame with an opposite field single and Tyler Lesch followed and drilled a double to the gap in left center to put a pair of runners in scoring position. After a Brandon Patterson single put Upstate on the board and runners on the corners, the Spartans saw a strikeout and double play end the threat with just one run coming across.

Upstate added two more runs in the seventh inning, this time benefiting from a Bumgardner infield single to plate Richardson. A two-out fielding error gifted the Spartans one more run in the frame and made it 5-3 heading to the eighth inning.

The bats would go cold again from there as Upstate failed to record a base runner over the final two innings to hand Northern Kentucky its third victory of the season and first A-Sun win in program history.

The Norse jumped on top in the second inning with three straight hits to plate a run, and added a pair of runs in the fifth and sixth innings, all the offense they would need in a 5-3 victory.

Brandon Lee (4-3) suffered his third consecutive A-Sun loss, tossing 8.0 innings and giving up four earned runs on 11 hits. The senior added six strikeouts and did not walk a batter.

Aric Harris (1-0) picked up his first victory of the year in 5.0 innings of work, allowing just three hits and no earned runs. Brett Loeding came on for the four-inning save, giving up three runs on five hits to earn his second save of the year.

The Spartans and Norse will play game two of the three-game series Friday evening with first pitch set for 6 p.m. at Harley Park. David Roseboom (4-1) will take the hill for Upstate, while Matt Jefferson (0-5) is slated to get the call for Northern Kentucky.  

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