SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate baseball team was unable to avoid their first sweep of the 2019 season, falling 9-7 to Gardner-Webb on Sunday afternoon at Harley Park.
With the loss the Spartans fall to 11-16 overall and 2-7 in Big South competition. Gardner-Webb improved to 13-11 overall and 5-4 in Big South play.
Top 1st: Kyle Schmitt threw four straight pitches to leadoff the game and walked Mitch McLendon in the process. Justin Kunz then reached on a hit by pitch and Chandler Redmond walked to load up the bases with no outs in the inning. One batter later and Eric Jones laced a ground ball past a diving Garett Wallace at third base to bring in the opening runs of the game. Ben Rowdon hit an infield single to keep the inning alive and Colton Sakamoto hit a deep fly ball to center field to bring the Runnin' Bulldogs third run of the inning. Chris Clary doubled to left field and Gardner-Webb led 4-0 after a half inning of play.
Bottom 1st: J.J. Shimko hit a one out single to the second baseman and advanced to second after Rowdon threw the ball into the dugout. Andres Kim then singled to centerfield and the Spartans had a pair of runners in scoring position. Julian Rip was plunked on a pitch to load up the bases, a second error by Rowdon allowed Wallace to reach first and a pair of runs to score on the play. Jeff Taylor walked on a full count and Stone Stephenson drove in a pair of runners with a single up the middle. Jack Hennessy then placed a perfectly timed bunt down the third base line for an infield single. Davis Wilber then knocked in the go-ahead run on a fielder's choice.
Top 3rd: Jones leadoff the inning with a full count walk and advanced to second a batter later on a fielding error by Stone Stephenson. Clary then brought in Jones with his second double of the afternoon. A Will Wheeler wild pitch on a brought in the Runnin' Bulldogs go-ahead run. Kunz then gave Gardner-Webb an insurance run with a sacrifice fly to right field.
Top 5th: McLendon singled to center field to lead-off the inning and came around to score on an error by Jeff Taylor in the next at bat. Redmond then drove in Kunz from third base with a base knock to left field. An 8-4-3 double play ended the inning for the Runnin' Bulldogs.
Bottom 7th: Jason Matthews hit a lead-off single back to the pitcher and came around to score on a J.J. Shimko RBI double to left field. Wallace grounded into a double play and the Spartans added a second run in the inning.
- Jason Matthews, J.J. Shimko and Andres Kim all had multiple hits in the loss for USC Upstate.
- Shimko, Davis Wilber and Stone Stephenson had RBI knocks for the Spartans on Sunday afternoon.
- Ben Rowdon led the Gardner-Webb offense with a 3-for-5 day at the plate.
- Mitch McLendon, Chandler Redmond, Eric Jones and Chris Clary all ended the game with multiple hits in the contest.
- Kyle Ruehlman picked up the victory after throwing six complete innings for the Runnin' Bulldogs.
- Jarrett Thompson picked up his second save of the weekend after a three inning shutout performance.
- USC Upstate will be back in action on Tuesday evening with a nonconference game against Charleston Southern. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Harley Park.
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