Spartanburg, S.C. – Five Columbia relievers combined to hold USC Upstate to just two hits over the final 4.2 innings as the Lions claimed a 6-3 victory Sunday in the finale of a four-game series from Harley Park.
Starting pitcher Mike Weisman pitched the first 4.1 innings and surrendered two runs on six hits before giving way to Bryce Barr. Willis Robbins (1-0) followed and earned the win after allowing one run on one hit in 2.2 innings of work. Matt Robinson retired the final two batters of the game and picked up his third save of the season.
Upstate starting pitcher Zac Manuppelli (1-2) took the loss after giving up four runs on six hits in 3.1 innings. Sophomore right-hander Eric Birklund pitched three scoreless innings in relief and gave up just two hits.
Columbia pushed across a run in the first inning on a wild play that saw Shane Adams score from first on a single to shortstop by Jordan Serena. With Adams on first after a one-out single up the middle, Serena laced a ball deep in the hole at shortstop and legged out a hit that just beat the throw of Daniel Fickas. With the ball in flight towards first, Adams broke for third and Charlie Carpenter threw across the diamond to Jordan Miller at third base. Adams was called safe after sneaking in under the tag and then made a streak for home when he realized nobody was covering the plate.
Jake Beaver delivered a one-out RBI in the second inning to pull Upstate even when he plated Charlie Carpenter from third with a sacrifice fly to centerfield. Carpenter opened the inning with a double to right field for his seventh two-bagger of the season.
Columbia regained the lead in the fourth inning with an RBI single by Adams and a two-run single from Serena to open up a 4-1 advantage.
Upstate put itself in position for a big inning in the bottom of the fifth when Jordan Miller and J.J. Shimko led off with back-to-back singles to put runners on first and third. After a sacrifice bunt from Jaden Savage advanced both runners up one base, Fickas walked to load the bases and Miller scored in the following at-bat on a wild pitch by Barr. It appeared James Fowlkes gave Upstate a 5-4 lead in the following at-bat when he sent a pitch over the left field wall that was originally called a home run, but after Fowlkes circled the bases and crossed the plate, the umpires convened and overturned the call, ruling the ball crossed the fence outside the foul pole.
Joe Falcone gave the Lions a pair of insurance runs in the sixth inning with a two-run bloop single into left field that scored Adams and Savage.
Samples registered his second double of the game in the sixth inning and came around to score two batters later on an RBI groundout from Shimko. Samples finished 2-for-4 with one run scored and leads the team with nine doubles.
Upstate returns to action Tuesday at 6 p.m. when the Spartans host in-state rival Presbyterian from Harley Park.