SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate baseball team split a pair of games with Rutgers University on Saturday afternoon, 1-0 and 7-8 at Harley Park.
With the Split the Spartans move to 6-8 overall on the season, while Rutgers improves to 3-8 on the season.
Game One: Rutgers 0, USC Upstate 1
Bottom Sixth: The Spartans needed just one run in the bottom of the sixth inning to win the first game of the series on Saturday afternoon. Stone Stephenson doubled to right center to begin the inning and advanced to third base on a ground out from Griffin Zito. Andres Kim then singled down the left field line to score Stephenson from third.
- Stephenson went 3-for-4 at the plate in game one of Saturday's double header.
- Andres Kim picked up the lone RBI for the Spartans, while Jason Matthews had a two hit day for USC Upstate.
- On the mound, starting pitcher Jordan Marks threw six shutout innings and allowed just four hits, while fanning six batters on the day.
- Will Wheeler earned his first save of the season with two innings of no hit baseball. Wheeler finished with four strikeouts in the game.
Game Two: Rutgers 8, USC Upstate 7
Top 2nd: Tyler McNamara drew a leadoff walk to start the second inning and then advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt. A Spartans throwing error in the next at bat allowed McNamara to score and Peter Serruto found himself at third base with only one out in the inning. Victor Valderrama then hit a sacrifice fly to center field to bring in the second run of the game.
Top 3rd: Rutgers looked to capitalize on their 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning. After two quick outs in the inning, Chris Brito drew a walk and then advanced to second on a Tim Dezzi single. A few batters later and Kevin Welsh belted a two run single into right field to give the Scarlet Knights a 4-0 advantage.
Top 4th: Once again the Spartans had a chance to close out an inning ended up hurting themselves instead. With two outs in the inning Kevin Blum was hit by a pitch and then stole second base. Mike Nyisztor struck out swinging but the Spartans catcher was unable to complete the strikeout as he threw the ball into the outfield, allowing Blum to score.
Bottom 4th: Jack Hennessy reached on a fielder's choice to keep a runner on base for the Spartans. Hennessy advanced to all the way to third base on a failed pickoff attempt by the Rutgers pitcher. After an Andres Kim walk, Julian Rip hit a sacrifice fly into right field to score Hennessy from third. J.J. Shimko kept the inning alive by being hit by a pitch. Austin Morgan then ripped an RBI single through the left side of the infield to score the Spartans second run of the game.
Bottom 5th: Jason Matthews singled through the left side of the infield with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning. Stephenson then gave the Spartans back-to-back hits and USC Upstate had a pair of runners in scoring position. Hennessy and Kim then came through with an RBI knock edge to pull the Spartans within a single run of the Scarlet Knights.
Bottom 6th: Trailing 5-4 going into the bottom of the sixth inning the Spartan offense looked to keep the pressure on the Rutgers bullpen. Shimko drew a leadoff walk and then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Jeff Taylor then belted a double into right centerfield to tie the game at five.
Top 7th: Dezzi began the inning with a single to left field off a 1-1 pitch. Carmen Sclafani then stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. One batter later and Kevin Welsh hit a sacrifice fly into left field to give the Scarlet Knights the lead.
Bottom 7th: Jake Bourke drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Hennessy. Two batters later and Shimko tied the game with an RBI single up the middle of the infield.
Bottom 8th: For the second consecutive inning a Spartan batter drew a leadoff walk. Taylor advanced to second base on Matthews single to left center field. In the next at bat Taylor came around to score on an error by the second baseman.
Top 9th: Nyisztor singled through the right side to begin the frame and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Nyisztor came around to score on an RBI single from Brito. A few batters later McNamara came through with the game winning RBI single into right center field for the Spartans.
- For the first time all season the Spartans lost a game after leading in the eighth inning. It was also the Spartans first loss of the season when scoring six or more runs.
- USC Upstate has been outscored 10-3 in the ninth inning of games this year.
- Jason Matthews was the only Spartan hitter to have a multi-hit performance in game two of the afternoon.
- Sean Hupp was hit with the loss after giving up 2 earned runs on 3 hits in the ninth inning.
USC Upstate will try and pick up their second consecutive weekend series victory with a win over Rutgers on Sunday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 12 p.m. at Harley Park.