Spartans Tip Hatters with Late-Inning Rally

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Contact: David Beall,
 dbeall@uscupstate.edu

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate baseball team faced an early four-run deficit Friday evening, but a six-run seventh inning propelled the Spartans to an 8-6 comeback win over Stetson University in the Atlantic Sun Conference series opener at Harley Park.

The Spartans (21-13, 7-6 A-Sun) have now won eight of their last 10 games and win their second straight series opener, while the Hatters (15-20, 4-6 A-Sun) drop their third straight contest and sixth in their last seven outings.

Stetson jumped all over the Upstate starter Brandon Lee in the early going, recording seven hits in the first three innings and taking a 4-0 lead into the fourth inning.

The Spartans started to chip away in the middle innings, using an RBI groundout from Brandon Patterson in the fourth and a single up the middle in the sixth to cut the Hatter lead in half at 4-2.

After Stetson got a run back in the top of the seventh, Upstate put together a furious rally in the bottom half, scoring six runs on four hits and benefiting from three crucial Hatter miscues to take an 8-5 lead.

With two outs and one run across, Jordan Stampler kept the inning alive with a single through the left side to plate Tyler Miller and cut the lead to just a run at 5-4. Upstate then loaded the bases for Patterson who drove in his third run of the night with a seven pitch at-bat that culminated in a walk to knot the score 5-5. Daniel Seeba then stepped to the dish and lined a bases-clearing double to the gap in left center, sending Gaither Bumgardner, Tyler Lesch and Patterson home to cap the six-run frame.

Stetson came right back in the eighth and loaded the bases, but Chad Sobotka came on in relief and escaped the jam with a strikeout and fly out to center field.

The Hatters mounted another rally in the ninth, using back-to-back hits to plate a run, but Sobotka tallied his third strikeout of the night to put a lid on an 8-6 comeback victory.

Lee (6-3) picked up the win, tossing 7.1 innings and allowing three earned runs on 11 hits, while walking one and striking out six. Sobotka earned his conference-leading sixth save of the year in 1.2 innings of work

The series will resume Saturday afternoon as the Spartans host "Strike Out Cancer" in game two of the series at Harley Park. First pitch against Stetson is slated for 2 p.m.

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