FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: David Beall, firstname.lastname@example.org
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate baseball team erased a five-run deficit Saturday afternoon, but after a nearly three-hour rain delay No. 23 Mercer held on for an 8-7 victory and the Atlantic Sun Conference series sweep at Harley Park.
The Spartans (24-22, 8-13 A-Sun) continue to struggle against the Bears (36-12, 15-6 A-Sun), dropping their 11th straight contest to Mercer. The Bears have swept Upstate in each of the last three regular season series.
After Mercer scored a pair of first-inning runs, Upstate answered in its half of the opening frame, using back-to-back singles from Jordan Stampler and Gaither Bumgardner to put two on with no outs. Tyler Lesch followed with a sacrifice bunt and Brandon Patterson delivered a two-run single to knot the score at 2-2.
Both offensives went quiet in the second inning, but the Bears woke up with a pair of runs in the third inning and three more in the fourth to take a commanding 7-2 lead.
Needing to rally in the last of the fourth, Upstate did just that and it came from the hottest hitter in the lineup. Brody Greer led off the inning and extended his hitting streak to 15 games with his first home run of the year down the left field to make it 7-3. Daniel Seeba kept the rally going with a single to left, and Trey Richardson followed with a two-run shot down the left field line, his eighth home run of the year to put the Spartans right back in the game and cut the Mercer lead to 7-5.
Upstate kept the bats alive in the sixth when Luke Weber and Richardson reached with leadoff hits and came around to score to tie the game 7-7. Bumgardner provided the clutch hit, a two-out triple to right center to deadlock the game after six innings.
Mercer seemed to be all but done in its half of the seventh inning, but a two-out error, stolen base and base hit up the middle gave the Bears the lead once again at 8-7.
After playing a doubleheader Friday and moving Saturday's game up three hours to avoid incoming inclement weather, the rains finally came with one out in the top of the eighth inning, forcing the umpires to halt play and send the contest into a two hour and 54 minute delay.
After play was resumed, Upstate mounted a rally in the ninth, loading the bases with two outs, but Erik Samples flied out to right field to end threat and give Mercer the weekend series sweep.
Chad Sobotka was dealt the tough-luck loss, as the junior came on in the middle innings and shut down the Bears, but an error led to an unearned run in the seventh inning that proved to be the difference.
The Spartans will now enjoy their longest break of the season for final exams, returning to action May 8 at Charleston Southern, before traveling to Kennesaw State May 10-12.