Wofford Sweeps Cincy; Upstate Takes 2 of 3
We interrupt your regularly scheduled college basketball tournament viewing to remind you that meaningful college baseball is still being played.
While most of the college sporting world’s eyes were on March Madness, the Terriers and Spartans were taking to the diamond for a 3 game set. The Spartans hosted the James Madison University Dukes while the Terriers hosted the Cincinnati Bearcats.
Last time(s) out:
Upstate entered the weekend on a 5 game losing skid. After a big 6-3 win over Clemson at Fluor Field back on the 28th of February, the Spartans took a weekend trip down to ‘Bama for a 3 game set with the Troy Trojans. Troy was the winning ancient Greek City-State, sweeping Upstate 5-2, 15-9, and by run rule 10-0 in 7 in the series finale. In midweek, Upstate hosted Sacred Heart University and fell 10-6 followed by a trip back to Fluor Field for a tilt with the South Carolina Gamecocks. It… did not go well. Carolina drubbed the Spartans 19-1 in a game that went full-length.
Wofford continued their winning ways, knocking off Winthrop in midweek 18-10 back on February 28th, sweeping a 3 game set with Sacred Heart University over the last weekend 9-3, 15-8, and 5-1, completing a season sweep of Winthrop with an 8-0 shutout in Rock Hill on Tuesday, and holding off a late rally from Michigan State to win their 12th straight with a 12-9 victory at Fluor Field in Greenville on Wednesday afternoon.
The bright spots in the skid and for the better part of the season so far for USC Upstate have been Grant Sherrod and Henry Proger. Sherod leads the team with 15 RBIs in 15 games and is tied for 2nd most total bases with 26. Most notably, Grant has hit 3 home runs so far, 2 of which have been grand slams. Proger, while he had a rough go of things in his start at Troy, pitched phenomenally in his first 2, surrendering just 4 hits and 1 run with 2 walks and 12 strikeouts.
Wofford’s success has been partially attributed to senior 1st Baseman Ryan Galanie, who earned SoCon Player of the Month for February. Galanie hit over .500 through the course of the month with 15 hits, 3 home runs (including a grand slam in the series finale against Kent State in which he also hit a 3 run homer early in the game). Over the course of the month he tallied 15 RBIs and scored nine runs.
Friday afternoon’s game at Cleveland S Harley Park got off to a less than ideal start for the USC Upstate Spartans through the first 6 innings. Reese Dutton started on the hill and scattered 6 hits with 2 walks and 7 strikeouts. The “bugaboo” for him is that he allowed 5 runs, only 3 of which were earned thanks to the 4 errors committed by Upstate in the field.
On the flipside of the coin, the Spartans’ offense did not help either. They mustered just 1 run on 1 hit off of JMU starter Todd Mozoki through 5 innings.
Trailing 5-1 at the 7th inning stretch, Upstate began to start clicking at the plate. Grant Sherrod led off with an infield single to 3rd that Daniel Gernon followed with a base knock of his own. After Sherrod was erased at 3rd on a fielder’s choice play off the bat of Noah Rabon, Spartan 2nd baseman Easton Cullison singled to drive in Gernon. A passed ball brought in one more run, but the Spartans could not cut the deficit any farther than 2 runs until the bottom of the 9th.
David Pereira started the rally with a walk. Cole Caruso followed it with a double down the left field line. After a quick pitching change, Troy Hamilton delivered a base hit for an RBI to bring in 2, tying things up at 5. A balk and a swipe of 3rd later, Hamilton was the winning run 90 feet away.
Johnny Sweeney grounded to 2nd and they opted to go for the out at the plate. Hamilton beat the rap, walking it off for the Spartans to complete the comeback 6-5 win and snapping the 5 game losing skid.
The Spartans were led by Hamilton, who went 2-4 with a pair of RBIs and a walk. Easton Cullison, Johnny Sweeney, and Cole Caruso each tabbed an RBI on a combined 3 for 11 at the plate. On the mound, Al Holguin earned the win, coming in to relieve Reese Dutton in the 7th inning. Holguin went 3 innings with just 1 hit and 1 walk with 3 strikeouts.
At Russell C King Field Friday evening, Wofford put the Cincinnati Bearcats away quicker than the old R&R Bail Bonding Commercial said – “Quick, Fast, and In a Hurry.”
Coulson Buchanan got the start, and got into trouble right away. Cincinnati leadoff hitter Landyn Vidourek doubled on the 4th pitch he saw. But, he was caught stealing at 3rd 2-5 for the first out. The next hitter drew a walk on a full count. Buchanan settled in from there, getting an unassisted groundout to 1st and a K back to back to retire the side and leave a runner stranded in scoring position.
The game was over in the bottom half of the inning.
Marshall Toole got the bloodbath started with a single to left. It didn’t take much longer for the Terriers to crack the scoreboard. Almost literally. Ryan Galanie followed the Toole base hit with a towering 2 run bomb over the scoreboard in right.
Brice Martinez and Dixon Black kept the line moving with back to back singles and Trey Yunger reached on the first of 2 errors in the half inning to load the sacks. Jack Renwick drew a bases-loaded walk to force in Martinez and David Wiley added a 4th run with an RBI sac fly on a line to center. After a Cameron Gill RBI single that plated Yunger, an errant pickoff throw to 2nd scored Renwick.
The Terriers added 2 more runs on a wild pitch and 1 more RBI single from Ryan Galanie. Yep.. 3 RBIs in 2 ABs. In just a half inning. Brice Martinez came to the plate for the 2nd time as the 13th hitter of the inning and popped out to the 1st baseman in foul ground to end it. But, the Terriers carried a commanding 8-0 lead to the 2nd frame.
Wofford added single runs in the bottom of the 2nd and 3rd innings to up the advantage to double digits, and Coulson Buchanan continued to pitch effectively until the top of the 4th inning. A 1 out single and a balk led to a runner in scoring position for Lauden Brooks. He struck out swinging, but the ball got away, allowing the runner to move up to 3rd. It doesn’t matter where the runner was, because he’d end up scoring at any rate. Max Palmieri took a 2-1 pitch high and deep out of left field for a 2 run homer. Buchanan rebounded nicely to cap off his night with a K.
Buchanan went just 4 innings, not qualifying him for the win. His final line was 4 hits. 2 earned runs, a walk, and 8 strikeouts. Branton Little earned the win instead, coming in to start the 5th and pitching 3 and a third.
Little surrendered the only other run of the game by the Bearcats unearned with the aid of a pair of errors. Palmieri led off with a single to short, and took 2nd on a throwing error by Jack Renwick trying to get him at 1st. Palmieri would score on an errant snap throw down to 3rd from Cameron Gill.
Wofford added 2 more runs late via a pinch hit 2 run blast into the wind and over the scoreboard by Freshman Andrew Mannelly that made for the final margin of 12-3 as Lucas Mahlstedt finished the final 1.2 shutout frames with no hits or walks and a K.
The Terriers were led offensively by Ryan Galanie, who went 3-4 with 3 RBIs and a walk with 2 runs scored. David Wiley tied with Andrew Mannelly for 2nd most ribbys with 2 on an 0 for 2 night. Cameron Gill and Jack Renwick each tallied an RBI with Gill going 2-4 with 2 runs scored and Renwick 0-3 adding a walk and a run scored. Marshall Toole also scored 2 runs.
After their 13th straight win to go to 13-1 on the season, Wofford matched their best start in program history at 13-1, which came back in 1983 – exactly 40 years ago. That year, they won their first 13 before losing 12-7 to Winthrop.
Saturday, Upstate played a double header due to the threat of rain on Sunday. Things got underway at 1:00 PM with Henry Proger getting another crack at things after his tough day at Troy last Saturday. This go around was much better, as the game was a pitcher’s duel between Proger and JMU’s Ryan Murphy.
Things got off to a promising start for JMU. After the leadoff man grounded out to 3rd, the next man up reached on a fielding error on Upstate Shortstop Troy Hamiton. Proger plunked the next hitter putting runners on 1st and 2nd. The Dukes’ 4 hole hitter grounded to 3rd for a fielder’s choice, going to 2nd 5-4. The Spartans managed to get out of the inning unscathed thanks to the lead runner being caught stealing home on a delayed steal 2-4-2.
Upstate didn’t immediately answer, going down in order in the bottom half of the frame, but Proger helped his own case by settling in and facing just 4 hitters in the top of the 2nd. He surrendered a 2 out single, but got out on a fielder’s choice grounder to 2nd where they erased the lead runner 4-6.
The Spartans were the first to crack the goose egg in the bottom of the 2nd frame. After consecutive 1 out base hits from Grant Sherrod and Daniel Gernon. Noah Rabon flied to center for out number 2, bringing Easton Cullison to the dish. He delivered an RBI single to right to give the Spartans what would be their only lead of the game.
James Madison answered right away to take the lead in the top of the 3rd. The first 2 Dukes hitters of the inning reached via a walk and a hit batsman. A double steal set in motion what would be the death blow in the end. The next JMU hitter drove in the tying run with a single to left. The next man up licked up an RBI with a sac bunt on the first pitch he saw. The treat continued with a wild pitch and a walk, but Proger was able to get the next guy to line out to right.
From there, it became a battle of quick innings. No more than 4 hitters went to the plate for either team over the next 4 and a half innings. No more than 5 over the last inning and a half, but neither team could take the threat and score, as James Madiosn took the 2-1 win to even the series.
Henry Proger took his 2nd straight loss, pitching 7 innings with 2 earned runs on 6 hits with 2 walks and 3 strikeouts. Noah Sulliovan K’d 5 and walked 2 in 2 innings of work.
At the plate, the Spartans were led by Easton Cullison, who went 2 for 4 with Upstate’s lone RBI. Grant Sherrod was the lone other noteworthy performance, going 1-3 with a walk and a run scored.
Game 2 of the double dip started at 4:00. Chase Matheny got the nod on the bump for USC Upstate. He has a reputation for grinding out innings, and Saturday night was no exception to that.
The Spartans’ offense found some rhythm again early on after trailing 1-0 as Daniel Gernon got things started in the bottom of the 2nd inning. He singled with 1 out. Easton Cullison followed it with a single of his own. Then Ty Tilson gave the Spartans a 3 run lead with a deep fly to left. Noah Sullivan added 1 more on an RBI groundout after a single and back to back walks, giving Upstate a 4-1 advantage heading to the 3rd.
Upstate added another run in the bottom of the 3rd on an RBI single with 2 out from Jace Rhinehart, plating Grant Sherrod, who started the inning with a double down the right field line. That would be all the offense the Spartans could muster until the bottom of the 8th when they needed it the most.
James Madison added 2 runs in both the 5th and 6th innings to take a 6-5 lead that they carried up to the bottom of the 8th.
Upstate got a leadoff single from Easton Cullison to lead off the rally that would decide the series in the end. With 1 away, Jace Rhinehart got hit by a pitch and Cole Caruso drew a walk to load the bases for Troy Hamilton. Hamilton pulled a full count pitch into shallow right field for a single. Despite the right fielder charging in and playing it perfectly on a hop to come up throwing, his throw home was late by a millisecond, as Noah Rabon scored to tie the game at 6.
The Dukes made a quick call to the bullpen and the Spartans made sure to greet the new arm as rudely as possible. Noah Sullivan drew a bases loaded walk to give the Spartans the lead 7-6. Johnny Sweeney hit a sac fly to center to plate an insurance run.
Fittingly, given the way things have gone for him lately, who else but Grant Sherrod would be the one to put the exclamation point on the game? He delivered an RBI single to right to plate Troy Hamilton, capping a 4 run inning that ultimately secured the 9-6 come from behind win and the series for USC Upstate.
The late-inning comeback win was their 2nd in as many nights and giving the Spartans their first series victory since they swept a 2 game midweek series in Jacksonville with North Florida back in the last week of February.
USCU was led at the plate by Ty Tilson, who was 1 for 3 with 3 RBIs and a run scored. Noah Sullivan finished 1-3 with 2 RBIs, and a walk. Cole Causon was 2-4 with a walk and a run scored. Troy Hamilton, Johnny Sweeney, Grant Sherrod, and Jace Rhinehart all had an RBI a piece on a combined 3 for 15 with 2 walks and and 3 runs scored.
On the mound, Chase Matheny went 6 innings, being charged with 6 runs (5 earned) on 10 hits with 3 walks and 2 strikeouts, which had him on the hook for the loss had the Spartans bats and sophomore reliever Jake Cubbler not bailed him out. Cubbler earned the win by pitching 3 shutout innings with just a hit, 2 walks, and 5 K’s to his line.
Upstate, now back over .500 on the season at 9-8, will get back to action on Tuesday afternoon, hosting the Citadel Bulldogs with first pitch set for 4:00 PM. The upcoming weekend will be a 3 team showcase at Harley Park featuring Princeton and Cincinnati. Princeton and Cincy will play each other at noon on Friday followed by Upstate vs Princeton in the nightcap at 4:00 PM. Saturday will feature yet another Princeton vs Cincy battle at noon with Upstate taking on the Bearcats afterwards at 4:00. The weekend will conclude with one more game between the Spartans and the Princeton Tigers at 1:00 PM on Sunday.
Wofford entered Saturday afternoon looking to not only take the series from the Cincinnati Bearcats, but also win their 14th straight game since their opening day loss to Southern Illinois. The Terriers sent Charlie Weber to the bump for the contest that started at 2:00 PM.
Unlike the series opener in which Wofford all but put it away with an 8 spot in the bottom of the 1st inning, this game was almost the polar opposite. It was a pitcher’s duel between Weber and Cincinnati freshman Chase Horst.
Weber found himself and the Terriers down a run after half an inning as the Bearcats picked up a run with a no-doubt solo shot to right with 2 out. The excitement from the Cincinnati dugout, however, was short-lived.
Marshall Toole got things started in a painful way in the bottom half of the frame when he took a hit by pitch to the face, injuring his nose. He would be replaced in the moment by pinch runner Stan Zagrodnik. With 2 out and Zagrodnik on 2nd, Terrier 3rd baseman Dixon Black hit one hard back where it came from. The pitcher was able to knock it down, but his soft toss to 1st was dropped for an error, allowing Black to reach and putting men on the corners for Trey Yunger.
Yunger drew a walk, but on ball 4, Dixon Black took off for 2nd and the catcher made a snap throw down that the 2nd baseman snagged. Black looked to be easily caught in a pickle, but in the chaos, Stan Zagrodnik took off for home and ended up stealing a run to tie things up at 1. That 1 run was all the Terriers would get out of it in spite of loading the bases with a walk by David Wiley as Cameron Gill ended up flying out to the deepest part of the yard in center to end the inning. That would be the first of 2 instances where Wofford left the bases loaded and one of 3 total situations where 2 or more runners were left stranded, which is a credit to the pitching and defense from the Bearcats in this game.
In total, Wofford left 12 men on, and were on the wrong end of 5 double plays turned. Yet, despite that, the Terriers did what good teams that are hot do – find ways to make it happen.
On the mound, Charlie Weber gave way to Zac Cowan after 4 innings of 1 run ball, giving up 3 hits and striking out 6. Cowan also pitched well, with 3 innings of 1 run ball.
His lone blemish was a solo home run by Cincinnati Left fielder Kerrington Cross in the top of the 6th that broke the tie and gave the Bearcats a 2-1 lead.
Once again, the lead had a very short lifespan. David Wiley started things off in the bottom of the 6th with a 1 out triple that just did drop fair over the 1st baseman and rolled all the way to the corner. Cameron Gill followed it with an RBI grounder to short to re-knot things at 2.
That tie held for another inning, until Wofford finally broke through with a big inning.
David Wiley once again got things started with a leadoff double in the bottom of the 8th that was the opposite of his 6th inning triple – this one dropping in fair over 3rd and rolling all the way to the left field corner. With 1 out, Andrew Mannelly came up to pinch hit for Shane Lussier, who came in to pinch hit for DH Aaron Thomas (a Boiling Springs product) in the 6th inning. Mannelly had a pinch hit 2 run blast over the scoreboard on Friday night, and delivered once again, this time in a much bigger clutch moment. Mannelly singled to shallow center to score Wiley and give the Terriers the lead 3-2.
Andrew Mannelly worked his way around to 3rd, and on a dropped 3rd strike that went all the way to the backstop after a wave and miss by Jack Renwick, he trotted home without a play to go up 4-2. Renwick, being speedy as he is, beat the rap at 1st with ease, keeping the inning alive for Ryan Galanie.
Galanie was issued an intentional walk and Connor Larson wore one to load the bases. Dixon Black also got hit to force home Ryan Galanie for the game’s final run.
Cincinnati got a man on in the top of the 9th with a 2 out double to center field. But, he was left out there as Luke Stephens picked up his 2nd win of the season with 2 shutout innings with 2 hits and 2 strikeouts.
David Wiley led the way with a 2-3 day at the dish with a walk and 2 runs scored. Dixon Black, Cameron Gill, and Andrew Mannelly each tabbed an RBI, going a combined 2 for 8 with a run scored. Ryan Galanie was 1-2 with a pair of walks. Jack Renwick finished 1-3 with a walk and a run scored.
With the win, the Terriers have set a new program record for the best start to a season, moving to 14-1. The previous mark was set 40 years ago back in 1983, when Wofford started by winning their first 13 games before dropping a 12-7 decision to Winthrop.
Wofford’s Sunday game was cancelled due to the cold and dreary mist, so they will have to wait until Tuesday to try and add on to their historic start as they go to Athens and face UG followed by a weekend trip to Xavier for a 3 game set.