Wofford Swept; Spartans Win Two
Rain 1, baseball 0. That was the score for Friday’s local college baseball games, shuffling the schedules around. On what was already a busy weekend at Cleveland S Harley Park, USC Upstate was hosting both Princeton and Cincinnati. The shuffling moved Upstate’s originally-scheduled Friday game with the Bearcats up to Thursday at 5:00, Princeton’s Saturday game with Cincy to 11:00 in the morning and Upstate’s dip with the Tigers to 2:00 in the afternoon.
Wofford, hosting a 3 game set with Xavier, was forced to play a double header on Saturday with the first game set to start at 3 and game 2 at 7:00.
Thursday, the Spartans played one of their cleanest games of the season by far. Reese Dutton took to the hill and struck out 11 in 5 innings with just 2 walks and 2 hits scattered in that span.
Upstate’s bats were hot, tallying 11 hits in the game. They established the tone in the 1st inning getting Cincy to strand a man on a fielder’s choice play. In the bottom of the frame, Cole Caruso got a 3 run rally started with a leadoff walk on 4 pitches. Troy Hamilton followed it with a 2 strike single to right center.
With 1 out, Grant Sherrod did his thing and singled home Caruso. An errant pickoff throw to 1st brought home Hamilton and moved Sherrod into scoring position. Daniel Gernon added the 3rd run by driving a full count pitch to the gap in right center to plate Sherrod, and Upstate took a 3-0 advantage to the 2nd inning.
The Bearcats threatened in the top of the 2nd after a leadoff walk, a 1 out single, and another free pass loaded the bases. But Dutton rebounded with back to back strikeouts to get out of it unscathed. Cincinnati would not even muster another base runner off of him for the rest of his outing, notching 3 straight 1-2-3 innings.
Daniel Sivec entered in relief to start the 6th inning. He walked 2 and struck out 5 in 2 innings of work.
While Reese Dutton was mowing the Bearcats down with ease, the Upstate bats did their fair share of damage as well. In the bottom of the 2nd, Al Holguin singled through the left side to get things going. After back to back fly ball outs, Troy Hamilton laced a 2 bagger down the left field line to score Holguin from first. That add on run made it 4-0 Spartans heading to the 3rd.
USCU added single runs in the 4th and the 6th to open up a 6-0 lead late in the game. One of those 2 runs came on a Cole Caruso RBI groundout. The other materialized on a sac fly hauled in by the left fielder in foul ground by Al Holguin, scoring Noah Rabon.
Braden Consaul pitched the final; 2 frames for Upstate. He surrendered the lone run of the game for Cincinnati on a 2 out RBI double down the right field line. In his 2 frames, he gave up 3 hits, just the one earned run, a walk, and struck out 1.
The Spartans had 5 different hitters tally a single RBI each. Oddly enough, those same 5 hitters also scored a run in the 6-1 victory. Troy Hamilton, Al Holguin, Noah Rabon, were each 2 for 3 at the dish. Daniel Gernon was 1-4, and David Pereira was 1-2.
Against Princeton on Saturday afternoon, the Upstate Spartans sent Henry Proger to the mound. He was not “on” in the early going. After getting the Tigers’ leadoff man to ground out to 2nd, Eric Marasheski doubled down the line in left. Proger issued a walk to Brendan Cumming to follow that, setting the stage for Princeton to draw first blood.
Tiger Right Fielder Scott Bandura laced a full count pitch through the 4 hole and took 2nd on the throw to the plate. Princeton DH Jake Bold added on with an RBI groundout to short. Proger struck out the next hitter swinging to end the threat, but the Spartans trailed 2-0 early on.
It did not take long for Upstate to answer. Upstate rallied to tie it with 2 runs in the bottom of the frame, making Princeton starter Jackson Emus work hard.
On a full count, Spartan leadoff man Cole Caruso took one to the ribs. Troy Hamilton followed it with a single through the left side. A wild pitch moved them both into scoring position for Johnny Sweeney, who walked to lead the bases.
The Spartans had a chance to do some major damage, but could only muster just the pair of runs on 2 bases loaded walks – one to Grant Sherrod, and the other to Noah Rabon with 1 out, as well as an Easton Cullison RBI single. After the Cullison hit, Al Holguin grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning, and Upstate took a 3-2 lead to the 2nd.
Both pitchers settled in nicely over the next 2 innings with the lone blemish being a solo home run that Proger gave up to Matt Scannell that tied the game at 3 in the top of the 3rd.
Upstate threatened again in the bottom of the 3rd inning when Grant Sherrod dropped a double fair by about 2 yards inside and down the left field line. A wild pitch moved him up to 3rd for Daniel Gernon, who ended up drawing a walk. Gernon swiped 2nd as Noah Rabon went down looking for the first out of the frame. Easton Cullison drew a walk, making for a huge chance for Al Holguin.
Holguin lined one towards 2nd that hit off of Easton Cullison, erasing him for the 2nd out. The unfortunate runner interference led to the Spartans leaving the bases loaded when David Pereira grounded out to 3rd.
The Spartans re-claimed the lead in the bottom of the 5th when Emus was taken down for Reece Rabin. Daniel Gernon got plunked with 1 out. After Noah Rabon flied out, Gernon swiped 2nd with ease because the pitch he ran on was wild and allowed him to take 3rd. Easton Cullison followed that with an RBI single into center, but was erased on a pickoff when he wandered off the bag 1-3-6 at 2nd to end the inning.
Henry Proger ran into trouble in the top of the 6th, when he walked the leadoff man and gave up a double to left center to the next man. He was taken down for the Big South Conference Relief Pitcher of the Week Jake Cubbler, who immediately surrendered an RBI single and a run-scoring 4-3 groundout. Both of those runs would be charged to Proger, and they gave the Tigers a 5-4 lead.
Cubbler settled in and got the last 2 outs of the inning via a K and an unassisted grounder to 1st. After working a 3 up 3 down 8th, he ran into trouble quickly. Back to back doubles extended Princeton’s lead to 2, forcing Cubbler to be yanked for Braden Consaul, who would face just 1 hitter. His lone hitter laid a sac bunt back to the mound for the first out of the inning. Mike McGuire’s chess match didn’t play out his way as Jackson Campbell came in and got a fielder’s choice grounder to 2nd. The throw to the plate was wide by a long shot and got away to the backstop, plating a run and allowing the batter to take 2nd.
Campbell rebounded with a strikeout and a grounder to short, but with just 3 outs to play with, the Spartans’ deficit was 3.
Upstate’s last hopes fell on the shoulders of Grant Sherrod, who came to bat with Johnny Sweeney on 1st after he got hit by a pitch with 2 out. Sherrod grounded to 3rd and was gunned out to end it, dropping the Spartans to 11-9 on the season.
The Spartans were led at the plate by Easton Cullison, who went 2 for 3 with 2 RBIs with a walk. Noah Rabon and Grant Sherrod notched an RBI a piece on a combined 1 for 7 with 2 walks. The top 3 hitters in the Spartan lineup – Cole Caruso, Troy Hamilton, and Johnny Sweeney each tallied a run scored on a combined 3 for 11 with 2 walks.
The loss went to Henry Proger, who fell to 2-3 on the season. He went 5 innings with 5 earned runs on 5 hits, 2 walks, and 8 strikeouts.
Upstate wrapped up the weekend with 1 more game against Princeton on Sunday at 1.
I am not going to take the time to summarize it all, because this game was all Spartans. Upstate opened this week with a 25 -10 win over the Citadel on Tuesday. That game tied a program high for runs scored in a single game and served as the 3rd instance of a 20 plus run, 20 plus hit game in the Mike McGuire era.
They tried their hardest to take advantage of a depleted Princeton pitching staff that had to endure 3 games on Saturday (for Princeton’s sake, at least they won all 3). After Chase Matheny worked a scoreless top of the 1st, the Spartans struck for 3 runs. They just kept piling on, scoring in every inning.
Upstate scored 3 more in the 2nd, 2 in both the 3rd and 4th, 4 in the fifth, 2 in the 6th, and 3 in both the 7th and 8th. Princeton did not crack the scoreboard until the top of the 5th, and added 3 more in the 7th.
In the end, the Spartans dominated their way to a 22-4 win to make for 2 out of 3 on the weekend.
Upstate was led at the plate by Easton Cullison, Jace Rhinehart, and Ty Tilson, who each logged 3 RBIs. Tilson was 2 for 3, Rhinehart was 2-4, and Cullison was 1 for 3. Kyle Hennington and Troy Hamilton logged 2 RBIs apiece on a combined 3 for 4 with 2 walks and a run scored. 4 other Spartan hitters tallied 1 RBI.
On the mound, Chase Matheny cruised to the win, going 6 innings of 1 run ball with 4 hits, a walk, and 4 strikeouts.
Upstate will head up to Charlotte Tuesday night to take on the Queens University Royals with first pitch set for 6:00 PM. The following weekend, they open Big South Conference play with a road trip up to High Point. The series opens Friday at 6:00 PM, continues Saturday at 6 PM, and concludes Sunday at 1:00.
Wofford opened their Saturday Double Header with Xavier in less than ideal fashion. The Terriers, in midweek, had their 14 game win streak that propelled them to their program-best 14-1 start snapped by Georgia 10-8 on the road in Athens.
The Terriers offense, which had been clicking well, not just in their 8 run showing Tuesday at UGA, but over 13 of the last 14 games before that, got off to a slow start against the Musketeers.
They went down in order in the bottom of the 1st after a 3 up 3 down frame put up by starter Matthew Marchal. After Xavier struck for what would be the only run of the game up until the top of the 8th inning on a Carter Hendrickson RBI triple to center that scored their DH Tyler DeMartino (reached on a hit by pitch with 2 out), Wofford strung together back to back singles from Dixon Black and Trey Yunger to start the home 2nd.
Andrew Mannelly laid down a successful sac bunt to move both runners into scoring position. But, a Cameron Gill liner to 2nd and Aaron Thomas struck out swinging to leave them on.
The Terriers proceeded to go 3 up 3 down in the 3rd and 6th innings, left 2 on in the 4th, and single runners in each the 5th and 7th, making for a whole household worth – 6 in total throughout the course of the game.
Despite leaving 2 on base in the home 5th, Wofford scored their lone run of the game in the frame. After back to back singles from Aaron Thomas and Jack Renwick, David Wiley delivered a clutch single to score Thomas. The Terriers could have had 1st and 3rd with nobody out, but Jack Renwick was gunned out trying to go 1st to 3rd on the hit 6-5 for the first out.
Zac Cowan came in to relieve Matthew Marchal, whose final line was 1 hit, 1 earned run, and 7 strikeouts in 5 complete innings. Cowan got a couple of quick 3 up 3 down innings in the 6th and 7th, but had a rocky go at it in the top of the 8th.
Xavier DH Tyler DeMartino got plunked once again to start a rally. Following a groundout to short and a fly ball out to right, Hayden Christiansen (no, not the actor that played Anakin Skywalker..) blasted a pinch hit 2 run homer out of left to make it 3-0 in favor of the Musketeers.
Cowan settled down and came back out to start the 9th, and faced 3 batters without recording an out. The first 3 Xavier hitters all reached on an infield single to third, a single to right, and an RBI double to the gap in left center. With 2 on, he gave way to Champ Davis, whose fortunes were not much better.
He surrendered an RBI single to his first hitter (charged to Cowan), an RBI double to center (also on Cowan’s line), and a 1 out RBI double.
Holden Wilder came on to relieve Davis, whose line was a third of an inning with 4 hits, 3 earned runs, no walks, and no strikeouts. Wilder got out of the inning giving up just 1 more run on an RBI grounder. In total, Xavier tallied 8 runs over the last 2 innings, which propelled them to a 9-1 win.
Zac Cowan took the loss in the end, having gone 3 innings with 4 hits, 5 earned runs, and a strikeout.
At the plate, Wofford was led by David Wiley, who was 1 for 4 with their lone RBI. Boiling Springs alum and Wofford DH/1B Aaron Thomas was 2 for 3 with the lone run scored. Dixon Black and Trey Yunger both went 1-3 at the dish with a walk. Jack Renwick was also 1 for 3.
In game 2 of the double dip, the Terriers and Musketeers once again struggled on offense. Wofford struck first in the bottom of the 3rd after catcher Alex Nevils drew a walk to lead off. Connor Larson laid down a sac bunt that the 1st baseman made an error on, allowing him to reach. David Wiley also bunted towards the 3rd base side and was gunned out 5-3 for a successful sacrifice. Trey Yunger, who logged both RBIs in the game for the Terriers, notched his first by lifting a sac fly to center, scoring Nevils.
Xavier tied it in the 5th inning with a solo home run to left, but aside from that, the scoreboard was covered in goose eggs until the 10th inning.
Luke Stephens came in to relieve Lucas Mahlstedt to start the frame, and gave up a leadoff double. A sac bunt moved that go-ahead run to third, and he came home on an infield single and an error on Wofford 2nd baseman Brice Martinez. Stephens managed to avoid any further damage despite another hit and an intentional walk, but the Terriers would need to find a clutch hit in order to split the double header.
Trey Yunger made sure they had that chance. With 1 out, he mashed one high and deep into the wind blowing out and it carried out of center field to tie the game at 2. Brice Martinez followed the big fly with a single to represent the winning run. But, as would be the story over the next 3 innings, they could not find a way to move him around and get the run in. He was left out there after a strikeout and a fly ball to center.
In actuality, wasted opportunities would be the story for both teams over the next few innings. If you were to try and put it to words, the only cliches/descriptive phrases that come to mind are “Playing with fire” and “Russian Roulette”.
Xavier led off the 11th with a double that turned into an odd blunder for out #1 to avert a big jam. After taking 2nd, on the relay throw in, he was celebrating. Jack Renwick wisely held the ball before tossing it back to the mound to deaden the play. The runner stepped off and Renwick smartly tagged him out. The next guy singled but was erased on a force play prior to a K retiring the side.
In the bottom of the frame, Jack Renwick doubled over the 3rd base bag and down the line to the left field corner with 1 down. But he was left there.
In the 12th, the Musketeers leadoff man singled. The next man grounded back to the mound. Luke Stephens tried to get the lead runner at 2nd but did not set his feet before the throw and it went into center field, allowing the go-ahead run to take 3rd. They did get an out at 2nd on the relay 8-6-4, leaving men on the corners with 1 out. Wofford escaped trouble when the next man up grounded to short and Renwick threw high to the plate. Cameron Gill leapt and caught it and just did come down with a tag in a split second before the runner touched the plate.
The Terriers once again got the winning run in scoring position in the bottom of the 12th after Trey Yunger drew a 1 out walk and advanced via a wild pitch. He was left there after a pair of K’s with an intentional walk sandwiched between.
Another leadoff double and sac bunt had the go-ahead run on 3rd yet again for Xavier in the 13th.. Aaaaand once again, the crisis was averted when he was erased on a force play at the plate.
The bottom of the 13th saw the best threat of the game for the Terriers, and, well, spoiler alert, it didn’t amount to anything.
Ben Schulte led off with a double off the fence in the right field corner. He was taken down for pinch runner Stan Zagrodnik, and then Xavier opted to issue an intentional pass to Jack Renwick. Cameron Gill laid down a sac bunt, but pushed it back to the mound, making for an easy choice for the hurler to go to 3rd and erase Zagrodnik.
Following the forceout, a successful double steal would once again have the winning run 90 feet away in Jack Renwick. Now for the deja vu.. After a pitching change, Renwick was erased at the plate on a fielder’s choice when Connor Larson grounded to 2nd. David Wiley went down swinging to ensure that the winning run would stay on third.
If the descriptive cliche you opted for earlier was “Playing with fire”, there is a phrase that often accommodates that one that would more than adequately suffice to describe the way the game ended up finishing in the 14th.
“When you play with fire, you eventually get burned.”
After erasing a leadoff single, a bunt, and a fielder’s choice to eliminate the lead runner at 3rd, Xavier changed the narrative that it seemed the threat was building to. After another single, Musketeer shortstop Jack Housinger crushed a 3 run homer out of right field to give Xavier the 5-2 lead.
In the bottom half of the inning, Wofford got a man on with a 2 out walk, but they could not move him any further, and the Terriers suffered their first series loss of the season.
Trey Yunger led the way, going 3 for 5 and both RBIs with a walk and a run scored. David Wiley and Brice Martinez both went 2 for 6.
Coulson Buchanan, Lucas Mahlstedt, and Luke Stephens all 3 pitched 4+ innings. Buchanan went 5 with just 1 earned run on 4 hits, a walk, and 3 strikeouts. Mahlstedt worked 4 scoreless frames with 3 hits and 4 K’s. Stephens had the misfortune of taking the loss, pitching 5 innings with 4 earned runs on 9 hits, a walk, and a strikeout.
With pitching for both teams stretched thin by the double header and the marathon game Saturday night, Sunday’s finale was sure to be an offensive barn burner. It turned out to be exactly that.
Wofford had to roll Mike Eggert out for a spot start (or an “open” if that is what you prefer to call it), and he made it just a third of an inning. Xavier tacked 7 runs onto him – just 4 earned – on 5 hits. He was taken down for Branton Little, who went an inning and 2 thirds of 1 run ball with 3 hits and a strikeout.
The Terriers managed to get their bats going in the 2nd, striking for 4 to cut the deficit in half, and added 1 more in the bottom of the 3rd to cut it to a 3 run game.
Xavier hung a 4 spot in the 4th to go up 12-5, and would not add on again until the 9th. Wofford chipped away in that span with 3 in the 6th and 2 in the 7th, making it 12-10. Xavier provided all the cushion they needed to complete the sweep in the 9th with a pair of solo home runs to make for the 14-10 final margin.
Ben Schulte and Jack Renwick led the way with 2 RBIs a piece. Schulte was 3 for 4 with 2 runs scored. Renwick was 0-2. David Wiley, Cameron Gill, and Andrew Mannelly had an RBI each on a combined 4 for 12 with a walk and 4 runs scored.
The Terriers, now having lost 4 in a row, are going to look to get back on track with a midweek game at Georgia Tech Tuesday night at 6:00 before starting SoCon play by welcoming Virginia Military Institute to Russell C King Field. That series starts Friday at 6:00, will continue Saturday at 3, and wrap up Sunday at 1.