Wofford Sweeps; Upstate Drops Two of Three
The first full week of the season for USC Upstate was a good one. After The Spartans swept Towson opening weekend using a mix of dominant pitching and timely hitting, they went down to Jacksonville to take on North Florida in a 2 game set.
Tuesday night in game 1, Upstate defeated the Ospreys 15-7 behind a pair of 5 spots – one in the 3rd and one in the 8th. It was a big game from Troy Hamilton, who went 4 for 6 at the dish with 3 RBIs and 3 runs scored. Noah Sullivan also had a solid game, going 3-5 with 3 RBIs and a run scored. Grant Sherrod and Daniel Gernon logged 2 RBIs a piece. In total, the Spartan bats logged 3 home runs, and 7 extra base knocks.
Al Holguin got the win on the mound with a 5 inning, 2 run outing in which he surrendered 4 hits and 4 walks with 3 strikeouts.
In game 2 Wednesday afternoon, USC Upstate completed the sweep with a 9-4 decision. The Spartans blasted 4 dingers in the win, 2 by Noah Sullivan, one by Troy Hamilton, one by Jace Rhinehart, and one by Johnny Sweeney. For Sullivan, it marked his 2nd career multi homer game, his last having been against Gardner-Webb in April last year. Rhinehart, Adam Grob, and Sullivan each tallied 2 RBIs. On the mound, Curtis Mathieu made his first start for Upstate and earned the win. He went 5 and 2 thirds innings, surrendering 2 runs (1 earned) on 4 hits with 3 walks and 5 strikeouts.
Upstate got back to action Friday hosting the One Spartanburg, Inc Classic, a showcase featuring Michigan State, Toledo, and Northwestern.
Friday, they hosted a similar color-clad team with the same mascot – the Michigan State Spartans. Reese Dutton got the nod on the mound, who was strong on opening day for Upstate, going 6 innings of shutout ball with 6 K’s and no walks. His outing was not quite what he would have hoped in this game. He still grinded his way through 6 innings, and struck out 7 MSU hitters. But he gave up 6 runs (just 4 earned) on 5 hits with 2 free passes.
The local Spartans took an early 1-0 lead after a walk from Troy Hamilton and back to back doubles from Daniel Gernon and Noah Rabon. Things went awry in the top of the 3rd after the other Spartans’ leadoff man reached on an E3. That was followed by back to back singles and a 2 run double. With 1 out, they tacked on another with an RBI groundout to make for a 4 spot.
MSU added 2 more in the 4th 2 RBI doubles. But, aside from the early offense, one of the key difference makers in this game was the way the Michigan State starter effectively pitched to contact. He induced a lot of hard contact, but was getting ground ball outs once he settled in from the early doubles Upstate tagged him for.
Upstate put together their first rally since the 1st in the bottom of the 6th. Daniel Gernon led off with a single. Noah Rabon followed with a double. Hope waned after Johnny Sweeney flied out and Noah Sullivan was run up looking. But after Cole Caruso walked to load the bases, Upstate got a huge spark in what would turn out to be the highlight of the game. Grant Sherrod came up and delivered a no doubt grand slam out of left that cut the MSU lead to 6-5.
The USCU bats mustered just 1 more run in the bottom of the 7th inning when Danie Gernon reached on an infield single to the pitcher. He took 2nd on a wild pitch and later came around to score on a Noah Rabon RBI single to left.
Michigan State plated 2 in the 7th, and single runs in the 8th and 9th to deal USC Upstate their first loss of the season 13-6.
Upstate was led at the dish by Daniel Gernon, who was a perfect 4 for 4 with an RBI and 2 runs scored. Noah Rabon was 3 of 4 with a run scored and an RBI. Grant Sherrod’s grand slam gave him a career high in RBIs. despite just a 1-4 day.
Wofford bounced back from an opening day 9-4 loss to Southern Illinois to take the series with back to back wins – one of which was an 8 to 7 walkoff, and the other a 5-4 come-from-behind in which the Terriers pulled away in the late innings.
They extended the win streak to 3 on Tuesday night with a 4-0 victory over UNC-Asheville. Matthew Marchal, who got roughed up on opening day, got the nod in the midweeker, and rebounded nicely. He struck out 5 Bulldogs in 4 shutout innings with no walks allowed, which was enough to earn his first win of the season. Champ Davis and Luke Stephens combined to pitch 5 shutout frames in relief with 8 K’s and no walks allowed.
The Wofford bats mustered just 4 runs on 3 hits in the 4-0 shutout of Asheville, with the biggest difference being a 3 spot in the bottom of the 4th inning. The Terriers plated 1 on a fielder’s choice play that went awry for the Bulldogs with an errant throw from the pitcher that allowed Trey Yunger to score. That was followed with a clutch 2 run double from Jack Renwick.
This weekend, the Terriers hosted the Kent State University Golden Flashes in a 3 game set. The weather certainly took a turn after a sunny and warm day for the most part. Overcast skies in the late afternoon gave way to light rain by game time that never really let up, but never got severe enough to merit pulling out the tarp. The rain naturally brought with it cooler temps and damp air that made life tough for anyone trying to grip the ball or get a deep fly ball to go out.
Coulson Buchanan was given the start for Todd Interdonato’s squad in game 1, and he pitched well for 2 innings, working a 3 up 3 down top of the 1st and getting around a 1 out single in the top of the 2nd with back to back strikeouts. He gave up a towering fly ball that carried out just above the flagpole to the left of the scoreboard in right center field to lead off the top of the 3rd, which led to a 3 run rally by the Flashes. During that rally, Buchanan threw 2 wild pitches and hit a batter, surrendering the big blow on a 2 run double to the gap in right center.
Wofford was not without their chances to have a breakout inning early on in the game. The Terriers worked the bases loaded in the bottom of the 1st with 2 out, but Jack Renwick lined out to center to leave them on. They got a leadoff infield single out of Cameron Gill and a walk from David Wiley to follow it, but a strike out/throw out double play erased any scoring chance in the bottom of the 2nd. A 2 out infield single from Trey Yunger followed by an E6 to put Dixon Black on failed to result in anything as after a double steal, Jack Renwick went down swinging to quell any chance of scoring in the 3rd stanza.
Trailing 5-0 heading to the bottom of the 4th, the Terriers’ offense finally came through with some clutch hitting. Three straight 1 out walks loaded the bases for Ryan Galanie, who grounded to the shortstop. On the fielder’s choice play, the shortstop slid for the ball and booted it on the exchange, resulting in all hands being safe and the Terriers’ first run of the game. Brice Martinez followed that play up by lacing a bases-clearing triple over the 1st baseman’s head that went all the way to the right field corner to cut the Kent State lead to 1. Trey Yunger laid down a drag bunt up the first base line that very nearly went for an RBI single, but the pitcher was able to cut it off and get him 1-4 at 1st, although not before Martinez scored with ease to tie the game at 5.
Kent State reclaimed the lead in the ensuing half inning by cashing in on a leadoff single with a 2 out triple that split the gap in right center. That narrow 6-5 lead would hold until Cameron Gill uncorked a go-ahead grand slam off the scoreboard in the bottom of the 7th to give the Terriers a 9-6 lead that they would not relinquish.
Dom Marcoccio, Sam Stratton, and Luke Stephens combined to shut the Golden Flashes down over the final 3 and a third innings, earning Marcoccio his first win of the season and the first save for Stephens, who moved into the closer role vacated by the transfer of Dalton Rhadans after the 2022 season.
One thing is for certain after this game – the fashion in which the Terriers managed to come back very closely resembled the way their offense was geared and fought back in so many games after being down late a year ago. That is a positive sign to see that despite the new faces, they are still a very capable team.
Upstate took on the Toledo Rockets in game 2 of the OneSpartanburg, Inc classic Saturday afternoon. The Spartans were looking for a big bounce back from their pitching after a rough afternoon on Friday, but to make it short and sweet, it was not meant to be.
Chase Matheny got his 2nd start of the season, and though he grinded through 5 and two thirds innings, he surrendered 5 runs, 3 in the top of the 3rd and 2 in the top of the 6th on 7 hits with a walk and no strikeouts. Mike McGuire had to use a good chunk of his pitching depth to get to the finish in this game, burning through 6 other arms, including Nate Thomas (who did not retire a batter out of the 3 he faced), David James, AJ Hacker, Logan Winkelman, Braden Consaul, and James Strohbusch. Only Consaul and Strohbusch kept the Rockets off the board in their combined inning and two thirds.
In total, the Spartans’ pitching staff gave up 11 runs on 10 hits with 6 walks and 8 strikeouts.
On the flipside, Upstate’s offense simply could not string together enough hits in a row to rally or get clutch knocks when they needed them. They managed to scatter 11 hits, but stranded a small village, leaving 15 men on. Troy Hamilton and redshirt Sophomore Ty Tilson logged the Spartans’ 3 RBIs in the game – Tilson on a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the 2nd that got the Spartans on the board first, and Hamilton on an RBI single in the bottom of the 4th plus an RBI groundout in the 8th.
The Spartans fell 11-3 for their 2nd consecutive loss (if the whole thing about the struggling hasn’t already made that known for you…). Still, there were some positives. Grant Sherrod followed his grand slam Friday with a 4-5 day at the plate. Daniel Gernon also had a good day, going 3 for 4.
The Terriers sent Freshman righty Charlie Weber to the mound on Saturday as they were looking to clinch the series over Kent State. The freshman made his collegiate debut as the game 2 starter in the series with Southern Illinois last weekend, picking up a no decision in 4 innings, surrendering 3 runs (2 earned) on 2 hits with no walks and a K. He gave way to fellow freshman Zac Cowan, who pitched 2.2 innings and gave up 3 runs on 6 hits with no walks and 5 strikeouts. That same duo were the only 2 pitchers used by Todd Interdonato on Saturday.
In this start, Weber’s line was almost identical. He pitched another 4 innings, gave up 2 earned runs (3 total), on 5 hits with 7 strikeouts and no free passes issued. Cowan came in and earned his first win, going the remaining 5 innings, shutting the Golden Flashes down with just 3 hits, a walk, and 7 strikeouts.
Offensively, Wofford got things started early with 2 runs in the bottom of the 1st. Marshall Toole led off with an infield single and Ryan Galanie was hit by a pitch. After a sac bunt up the 3rd base side from Brice Martinez, both moved into scoring position, setting up a sac fly by Dixon Black to drive in Toole and a Jack Renwick RBI double to left, plating Galanie.
That 2 run lead diminished over the next 2 innings after Weber allowed a solo homer with 1 out in the top of the 2nd, and a 2 run homer following an error in the 3rd, making for a 3-2 deficit.
Wofford clawed away over the next 3 innings to reclaim the lead for good with an unearned run in the bottom of the 5th via a Ryan Galanie RBI groundout that tied it at 3, and another unearned run on an RBI double from Andrew Calhoun for the 4-3 lead.
The Terriers added 3 more with an eventful bottom of the 7th. Ryan Galanie got things started with a 1 out single and took 2nd on a wild pitch. Brice Martinez took an HBP to follow that, setting up a Dixon Black RBI single. After a pitching change, Jack Renwick laid down a sac bunt up the 3rd base line and reached via an E5. Renwick took 2nd on the errant throw while Martinez trotted home.
After a David Wiley grounder to short turned into a force out of Dixon Black at the plate, a double steal added one more run as Wiley took 2nd and Jack Renwick was safe at the plate.
In short, the Terriers used speed and took advantage of the defense – a part of “The Wofford Way” – their identity on offense, to clinch the series with a 7-3 win to get things started on what would be a good and historic day for Wofford sports (the Women’s basketball team won the SoCon regular season championship to claim the school’s first championship in a women’s sport shortly after the baseball win).
The Spartans looked to bounce back and end the OneSpartanburg Inc Baseball Classic on a high note. They took on the Northwestern Wildcats on Sunday afternoon with Henry Proger on the mound. Proger was dominant in his last outing for Upstate, carrying a perfect game into the 6th inning of the Spartans’ sweep of Towson a week ago.
In Sunday’s game, Proger earned his 2nd win of the season with a 7 shutout inning, 3 hit, 1 walk 4 strikeout performance, facing the minimum over his last 3 innings of work. Sophomore righty Julian Parson and Noah Sullivan completed the shutout, but not without some 9th inning drama on the part of Sullivan. He walked 3 out of the first 4 batters he faced to load the bases with 1 out. But, he was able to get a pop out to 1st baseman Adam Grob in foul ground and a swinging K to get out of it.
The biggest positive aside from the great pitching is that the Spartans’ offense found their swing again after struggling the last 2 games.
Grant Sherrod got Upstate off to a quick start by hitting his 2nd grand slam of the weekend on a blast to left with 2 out in the bottom of the 1st. Had that been all the Spartans could muster at the plate, it would have been enough to win. But, USCU’s bats managed to keep adding on with a nice mix of small ball, plate discipline, and power.
The Spartans added one in the bottom of the 2nd after Jace Rhinehart singled with 1 out and advanced on back to back walks by Johnny Sweeney and Daniel Gernon. He came home on a sac fly from Troy Hamilton. Then, on consecutive plate appearances in the 4th and 6th, Jace Rhinehart hit solo home runs to up the advantage to 7-0.
Upstate scored a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the 7th, taking advantage of an error on the 2nd baseman. Daniel Gernon drew a leadoff walk and Troy Hamilton reached on the error, which allowed both to move up an extra 90 feet. Braxton Boddorf grounded back to the mound to drive home Gernon, followed by an RBI single to right by Noah Sullivan, scoring Hamilton, making for the final margin of 9-0 and propelling the Spartans to their 9th win over a power 5 opponent since Mike McGuire became the head coach 4 years ago.
The Spartans were led by Jace Rhinehart, who was a perfect 3 for 3 with a walk, 2 RBIs, and 3 runs scored. Grant Sherrod led the way in RBIs with 4, obviously with all on the grand slam that was his lone hit in a 1-4 day. Troy Hamilton went 2 for 3 with an RBI, and 2 runs scored while Noah Sullivan was 1-3 with an RBI, a walk, and a run.
Upstate will now turn their focus to a midweek neutral site road trip to Fluor Field in Greenville to take on the Clemson Tigers. First pitch is set for 4:00 PM before hitting the road to Troy for a 3 game weekend set with the Trojans. Game times are set for 6:00, 3:00, and 1:00, respectively.
The Terriers went for the series sweep Sunday afternoon with Matthew Marchal on the mound. Marchal has been in a limited role since he was roughed up on opening day, last pitching in the midweek win vs UNC Asheville on Tuesday night. He pitched 4 innings of shutout ball there, and earned the win. He also pitched 4 innings in his start Sunday, surrendering 2 runs (1 earned) on 2 hits with no walks and 6 strikeouts.
The Terriers picked up where they left off from Saturday with another quick start on offense. After Marchal worked around a dropped 3rd strike that allowed a runner with 2 out in the top of the 1st, Brice Martinez singled to right with 2 down in the bottom of the inning. He stole 2nd and ended up scoring on a throwing error on a routine grounder to 3rd from Trey Yunger. That would be Wofford’s lone run in the 1st frame as Yunger was caught stealing 2-5 with Dixon Black at the dish to end the inning.
The lead was short-lived as Kent State’s Jake Casey hit a towering fly ball that seemingly just kept going up as it carried out of left field to tie the game. Matthew Marchal rebounded quickly with a grounder and a K to retire the side.
Still, the Terriers managed to answer as they reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the frame after a leadoff double from Dixon Black and a bunt play where Jack Renwick popped it up towards the mound but the pitcher dropped it and despite recovering for the 1-3 putout, Black went 1st to 3rd. David Wiley grounded to 3rd, but the 2nd throwing error of the game charged to the 3B scored Black unearned. The Terriers could do no further damage despite Wiley making it to 3rd as Cameron Gill K’d and Connor Larson was gunned out 1-3 at first trying for a safety squeeze.
That 1 run lead also had a short lifespan. Kent State’s leadoff man Josh Johnson reached on a throwing error by Matthew Marchal. He took 2nd on a grounder to 2nd where Brice Martinez nearly tumbled to field it and made a nice quick turnaround to get the out at 1st. The next hitter, Aidan Longwell doubled down the left field line to score Johnson. But, Marchal was able to limit the damage with back to back strikeouts to retire the side.
The 2 sides traded scoreless innings over the next 3 and a third, with both sides squandering a couple of scoring chances. But, with runners on the corners and 1 out in the bottom of the 7th, Ryan Galanie delivered in the clutch with a 3 run blast to right just into the trees behind the 375’ sign next to the scoreboard to give the Terriers the 5-2 lead.
But, Galanie was not done there. After the Terriers added 2 on a base hit through the right side from Connor Larson, they worked the bases loaded with 1 out in the bottom of the 8th. Galanie blasted a line shot out of right field for a grand slam and his 2nd 4 bagger of the game.
The bats were hot, but the story just would not be as good without remarking on the just as solid pitching and defense. It is a cliche, sure, but pitching, defense, and timely hitting are what win baseball games. Wofford got all that in this series finale. Counting Marchal’s last inning, the Terrier pitching staff put up 5 straight scoreless innings. That included an inning and third from Champ Davis where he worked around a hit and a walk, 1.2 innings from Lucas Mahlstedt (he went 3 and 2 thirds, but gave up a run on back to back hits in the 9th) with 2 hits and 5 strikeouts.
The Terriers ultimately completed the sweep with an 11-3 win, led by Ryan Galanie’s 7 RBIs. Mahlstedt logged the win on the bump since he got out of a jam with 1 out and 2 on when he came in to relieve Champ Davis with the game tied at 2. The win marks the 6th straight for Wofford.
The Terriers, now 6-1 on the season, host Winthrop on Tuesday night at 6 and play a 4 game set featuring a Saturday double header with Sacred Heart University next weekend.