SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate pitching staff put on a clinic, striking out 18 Kansas batters during the game, but it was to no avail as the Jayhawks came away with a 9-5 opening day win at Harley Park.
With the loss the Spartans open up the season 0-1 for the first time since the 2017 season. Kansas begins the season with a 1-0 record.
Top 2nd: After Benjamin Sems struck out looking to begin the inning, Skyler Messinger ripped a homerun over the left field wall on the first pitch he saw from Upstate pitcher Jordan Marks. The homerun gave Kansas an early 1-0 lead.
Top 3rd: Casey Burnham opened up the third inning with a double down the left field line. The Spartans appeared to be safe after collecting two quick outs, but a four pitch walk to James Cosentino kept the inning alive. Jaxx Groshans then hit a 1-2 pitch over the left center field wall to give the Jayhawks a 4-0 advantage.
Bottom 3rd: With one out and a runner on first base, Robby McGaha smacked a double up the middle of the field to put a pair of runners in scoring position. Designated hitter J.J. Shimko hit a sacrifice fly to deep centerfield to score the Spartans first run of the contest. A few batters later Julian Rip ripped a double off the left field wall to cut the Kansas lead to 4-2.
Top 4th: Messinger began the inning with a walk and then stole second base during the next at bat. Conner VanCleave singled down the left field line to score Messinger from second base.
Bottom 4th: Stone Pellegrino began the fourth with a single through the left side of the infield. Pellegrino reached second base on a failed pickoff attempt. Jack Hennessy singled up the middle and advance to second after the centerfielder threw home. Dario DeSantis hit into a fielder's choice but was able to bring home Pellegrino in the process.
Top 5th: A pitching change brought Johnathan Carlyle into the game for the Spartans. Carlyle walked two of the first three batters he faced. Sems made him pay with a single through the right side of the infield. Kansas led 6-3 at this point in the contest.
Top 6th: VanCleave was hit by a pitch to begin the top of the sixth inning. Burnham then drew a four pitch walk to put a pair of runners on the base paths. With one out in the inning Rudy Karre stepped to the plate and hit a 2-1 pitch out of the ballpark to give Kansas a 9-3 lead.
Bottom 7th: Jason Matthews walked drew a full count walk to give the Spartans a runner on first with one out in the inning. McGaha then doubled down the left field line to put a pair of runners in scoring position for USC Upstate. Shimko then singled up the middle on 2-2 count to give the Spartans their first run in almost three innings of action. Andres Kim drove in the Spartans final run of the inning.
- This is just the second opening day loss for the Spartans in the last eight seasons.
- The USC Upstate pitching staff set a new program record with 18 strikeouts, besting a previous best of 16 set against Armstrong Atlantic in 2005.
- Starting pitcher Jordan Marks threw 4.0 innings of work while giving up five earned runs on five hits. The sophomore also struck out 8 batters and walked just two batters.
- Relief pitcher Will Wheeler worked 3.2 innings of shutout baseball against the Jayhawks and struck out eight batters in the process.
- McGaha finished the day 3-for-4 at the plate with a pair of runs. Shimko ended the afternoon 1-for-3 with a pair of runs batted in.
- The Spartans and Jayhawks will meet again tomorrow afternoon for a double-header beginning at 2:00 p.m.
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