Spartanburg, S.C. – USC Upstate opened the Upstate Classic softball tournament with a mundane 6-4 victory in the first game of its doubleheader against George Mason at Cyrill Stadium Friday afternoon. The Spartans then turned in an epic comeback to take a 21-20 victory in the second game.
Upstate stands 3-1 on the year and will face Western Carolina at 3 p.m. Saturday in its final game of the Upstate Classic. George Mason improved to 0-7 on the year.
Upstate built its lead in game one and held on for the win. The Spartans fell behind by seven runs, but rallied with nine runs in the sixth in game two and finished the comeback with Dana Lander's RBI single in the eighth for the 21-20 victory. The teams combined for 41 runs on 38 hits and 12 errors.
The 21 runs were the most in a game by Upstate in the Division I era, topping the 19 scored against Northern Kentucky last season. It is also the most runs scored since the Spartans scored 30 against Fayetteville in 2005.
Upstate didn't take long to get on the board. After Shellie Robinson led off the game with a single and advanced to second on a ground out, Cheyenne Griffin belted a two-run home run to center field to give the Spartans an early 2-0 lead.
Upstate added to its lead in the second inning, this time manufacturing runs with two outs. With runners on the corners, Upstate executed a double steal with Robinson swiping second and Ryan Rector coming home on the play. Robinson also took third on the play and later scored on Hayley Reinfeld's single through the left side.
Upstate added to its lead in the fifth when Karla Beasley singled to drive in a run and later scored from third on a wild pitch to give the Spartans a 6-0 lead.
George Mason would not go away. The Patriots scored three runs in the top of the sixth to cut the Spartan lead to 6-3. Liz Seymour walked with the bases loaded to start things off, another run scored on a fielder's choice and Sarah Solano drove in a run on a sacrifice fly to do the damage. All runs were unearned following an error to start the inning.
George Mason got a run closer in the top of the seventh when it loaded the bases with one out. Seymour singled to drive in a run. However, Lexi Shubert, who started the game and left after four innings, came back in early in the inning and ended the Patriot threat. She got a strikeout and a force out at third to end the game and secure the win for the Spartans.
Shubert went five innings and allowed six hits with six strikeouts to earn the win and improve to 2-0. Griffin drove in a pair of runs to lead the Upstate offense. Beasley added a pair of hits. Christina Gabriele took the loss for George Mason. She fell to 0-3 after allowing six runs on five hits. Only two of the runs were earned.
George Mason started quickly in game two, plating a pair of runs in the first to take the early lead. Brooke Blankenship started things off by driving in a run on a sacrifice fly. Seymour drove in a run on a single up the middle.
George Mason added to its lead in the second inning. Breanna Boyd started things off by driving in a run on a single up the middle. A pair of walks loaded the bases and an RBI single and a sacrifice fly gave the Patriots a 5-0 lead.
Upstate clawed its way back into the game in the bottom of the second. With runners on first and second, Aly Schneider smacked a double to right to drive in a run and put runners on second and third. Marche Llanos drove in a run when she reached on an error to first and Schneider scored on a double steal with Llanos to get the Spartans within 5-3.
George Mason stretched its lead out to three runs in the third inning on Boyd's solo home run to left. It was the first homer of her career. Upstate got the run right back when Robinson led off the bottom of the third with a solo home run to center. The Spartans weren't done. Schneider came through again and slapped a single off the glove of the pitcher on a high chopper to drive in a run. The Spartans plated another run when Dana Landers stole home on a double steal to tie the game at 6-6.
George Mason grabbed the lead back in the top of the fourth. The Patriots plated six runs on five hits and two Upstate errors to open a 12-6 lead.
Upstate got a run back in the bottom of the fourth when Kaitlyn Jaeger led off the inning with a solo home run to right center. The Spartans loaded the bases with no outs, but only a run on a ground out from Landers produced anything as Upstate got back within four, 12-8.
George Mason extended its lead to 14-8 in the fifth on Heather Ferguson's two-run, two-out single to right. The Patriots made it a 15-8 game on Seymour's RBI single to center in the sixth.
Upstate scrapped its way back into the game with nine runs in the bottom of the sixth to open a 17-15 lead. The Spartans batted around in the inning and it all started when Robinson belted her second homer of the day to lead off the inning. Rector delivered with an RBI single and Upstate loaded the bases after Rector's hit and got a walk and a two-run single from Reinfeld to close the gap to 15-13. Robinson reached on a two-out error in the outfield with two runs scoring on the play and Griffin belted a two-run homer to put the Spartans on top, 17-15.
Just as Upstate fought back to take the lead, George Mason countered by scoring five runs in the top of the seventh to open a 20-17 advantage. Blankenship and Gabriele each picked up RBI hits, while Price delivered a three-run double to do the damage. Upstate, though, hung tough and sent the game into extra innings with three runs in the bottom of the seventh. Jaeger knocked in a run on a single and Robinson plated a run with a sacrifice fly. Griffin then came through with an RBI single to tie the game at 20-20.
Upstate held George Mason scoreless in the top of the eighth, the first inning the Patriots did not score the entire game. With the teams playing the international tiebreaker rule, Beasley was placed on second to start the bottom of the eighth. Landers led off the inning with a double to drive in Beasley with the game-winning run.
Kinsley Jennings started the game in the circle for Upstate. She was replaced by Amanda Storch, who gave way to Lexi Shubert. Jennings came back into the game and secured her first collegiate win to improve to 1-0 on the year. Sarah Kleinfelter took the loss for George Mason. She also started, was taken out, and came back in to finish the game.
Griffin finished the game with four hits, three RBIs and three runs to lead the Upstate offense. Robinson added three hits, three RBIs and three runs, while Jaeger collected three RBIs and scored three times on two hits.
2015 Upstate Classic
Friday, Feb. 13
Game 1 - Upstate 6, George Mason 4
Game 2 - Furman 7, Radford 2
Game 3 - Upstate 21, George Mason 20
Game 4 - Furman 8, Radford 6
Saturday, Feb. 14
Game 5 - Furman vs. George Mason, 11 am
Game 6 - Western Carolina vs. Radford, 1 pm
Game 7 - Western Carolina at Upstate, 3 pm
Game 8 - Radford vs. George Mason, 5 pm