SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate baseball team swept the Kansas Jayhawks 4-3 and 6-4 on Saturday afternoon inside the friendly confines of Harley Park.
USC Upstate improves to 2-1 on the season, while Kansas falls to 1-2 on the year.
Game One: USC Upstate 4, Kansas 3
Bottom 1st: The USC Upstate offense got off to a hot start in the opening frame. Leadoff hitter Robby McGaha smoked a single through the left side of the infield to get the game going for the Spartans. McGaha then advanced to second on a pass ball and designated hitter J.J. Shimko drew a full count walk to put a pair of runners on the base paths. Andres Kim then sacrificed both runners over into scoring position. Julian Rip then collected his first RBI knock of the day in the next at-bat for the Spartans.
Top 4th: James Cosentino took a 2-1 pitch and sent it back up the middle to give the Jayhawks a runner on with only one out in the inning. Jaxx Groshans hit a 2-run homerun over the left field wall to give Kansas a 2-1 lead.
Bottom 6th: McGaha drew a leadoff walk to begin the sixth inning. Two pitches later and USC Upstate had a pair of runners on after Shimko was awarded first following a hit by pitch. Kim then loaded up the bases with a bunt single. Rip tied the game up at 3-3 after a sacrifice fly to centerfield.
Bottom 7th: For the second consecutive inning, the Spartans drew a leadoff walk. Then chaos ensued for Jayhawks defense. Drake Harris struck out swinging but Kansas starting pitcher Ryan Cyr chucked the ball past the diving first baseman. The error allowed Jack Hennessy to score from first and Harris made it all the way to third base on the play.
Top 9th: Sean Hupp came into the game to pick-up his first save of the season. Hupp was able to retire the first batter of the inning with a lazy fly ball to centerfield. Groshans once again stepped to the plate and hit the game tying homerun over the left field wall. Hupp then induced an inning ending 6-4-3 double play.
Bottom 9th: Jason Matthews hit a one out single back to the pitcher, Matthews then advanced to second base on the second throwing error by a Jayhawks pitcher on the afternoon. McGaha walked and Griffin Zito moved both runners over with a ground out to first. Kim then stepped to the plate and blasted a 1-2 pitch back up the middle to give the Spartans their first victory of the season.
- This was the Spartans first win over a Power-5 school since the 2017 season when they defeated Pittsburg 9-5.
- Andres Kim went 3-for-4 at the plate with an RBI in the contest. Julian Rip went 0-for-3 but came through with a pair of RBI's for the Spartans.
- Trey Van Der Weide threw 7.0 innings, giving up 2 earned runs on six hits and he struck out five in the process.
- Sean Hupp picked up the victory after pitching the ninth inning.
- Jayhawks first baseman Jaxx Groshans finished the game 2-4 at the plate with a pair of homeruns and 3 RBI's
- Blake Goldsberry was saddled with the loss after giving up the game winning run in the ninth.
Game Two: USC Upstate 6, Kansas 4
Bottom 1st: The USC Upstate offense stayed hot in the first inning of game two. Griffin Zito smoked a one out single up the middle of the field. Kim and Rip then hit back-to-back singles and the Spartans had the bases loaded with only one out in the inning. Stone Pellegrino then knocked in the first run of the game. A few moments later Zito was able to score on a throwing error by the third baseman.
Top 2nd: Groshans drew a leadoff walk, followed by a Benjamin Sems single through the right side of the infield. Skyler Messinger then drove in the Jayhawks first run with a sacrifice fly to centerfield.
Top 4th: Messinger began the inning with a walk and then made it to third after a pair of sacrifice hits by his Jayhawk teammates. Messinger scored on Casey Burnham on an RBI single through the left side of the infield. Then the USC Upstate defense helped out the Jayhawks, Burnham stole second base and advanced to third base after Davis Wilber fired the ball into centerfielder. Burnham scored on the play after McGaha chucked the ball into the Spartans dugout.
Top 5th: Rudy Karre worked a leadoff walk for the Jayhawks and advanced to second on a stolen base. Sems scored Karre from second with an RBI single to right field. The RBI knock gave the Jayhawks a 4-3 advantage heading into the final three frames of play.
Bottom 7th: All nine batters came to the plate for the Spartans in the bottom of the seventh inning. USC Upstate began the inning with two consecutive singles followed by a walk to the load the bases with no outs. McGaha tied the game at 4 with an RBI single through the right side of the infield. Zito then gave the Spartans the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly to centerfield. USC Upstate scored their final run of the inning on a wild pitch by the Jayhawks pitching staff.
- For the first time this decade the Spartans have won a pair of games against a Power-5 team in the same season.
- USC Upstate will look to take their first ever series against a Power-5 team tomorrow afternoon.
- McGaha, Zito, Pellegrino and Wilber all came through with RBI knocks in the game. Harris was the only Spartan with a multi-hit performance in Game two.
- Jonathan Howlett picked up the victory on the mound and Sean Hupp picked up his first save of the season.
- The Spartans and Jayhawks will meet again tomorrow afternoon for the series finale at 1:00 p.m. If the game is rained out it will be moved to Monday at 12:00 p.m.
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