Spartans, Terriers Have 2-1 Weekend
It’s hard to believe that it is already Easter week, which in the scheme of the college baseball season, is always a crucial juncture in the midst of conference play. Let’s look at what happened for Upstate and Wofford this week.
In the ever-crucial span of Big South Conference play, every series and every game matters. With only 4 teams making the conference tournament, the only way to ensure your shot at making the NCAA tournament is to A) beat Campbell, who has been and still is the cream of the crop in the BSC year in and year out, B) win or sweep every series, or C) both.
So far, USC Upstate has checked one box in their pursuit of an NCAA Tournament appearance. They opened Big South play last week by sweeping the High Point Panthers on the road. In midweek, things took a turn in the wrong direction, as they were absolutely crushed 14-1 by Elon. They entered the weekend series with Winthrop looking to make sure that did not become a trend and check another box on their Big South to-do list.
Reese Dutton took to the mound once again for the Spartans in Friday’s opener and did a phenomenal job. He surrendered just 2 earned runs on 4 hits in 8 innings of work with 9 strikeouts, ultimately earning his 4th win of the season to up his record to 4-2.
Upstate broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the 6th when Grant Sherrod singled home 2 runs and later added on with a solo home run in the 8th. They went on to add 2 more unearned on a single from Noah Rabon accompanied with a throwing error that plated Sherrod. Noah also came in to score on a wild pitch, making for a 6-2 lead heading to the 9th.
Jake Cubbler also continued his tremendous work in relief, shutting the Eagles down after allowing a single and a walk.
In game two, the Eagles tagged Henry Proger for 2 runs early on a solo home run and a bases-loaded walk. Upstate responded by scoring 5 unanswered, 3 of which came on an inside-the-park home run from David Pereira. Winthrop cut it to a 1 run game in the 8th with a 3 run homer, but for the 2nd straight game, Jake Cubbler came in and slammed the door shut on the Eagles, earning his 2nd save of the season as Upstate took the series with a 6-5 win.
Things did not go ideally for Upstate with a chance for back to back Big South sweeps. Chase Matheny surrendered 2 runs in 4 and two-thirds innings of work, only one of which was earned. Al Holguin came in to relieve him, giving up 2 more earned on 2 hits in 3.2 innings.
Upstate was held to just 5 hits, and only one was for extra bases – a solo home run by Troy Hamilton that tied the game at 1 in the bottom of the 1st. After a home run that gave WU the lead 2-1, the Spartans again rallied for a run to tie it and eventually take a 3-2 lead, scoring a pair of runs when Kyle Henington trotted home on a wild pitch and Johnny Sweeney drew a walk with the bases loaded in the 5th.
The Eagles got the last say in this one, scoring a run on a fielder’s choice in the 8th and 2 unearned runs in the 9th on a Grant Sherrod throwing error. Winthrop salvaged the finale by a final of 5-3.
Upstate is still in great position in the conference, now sitting at 5-1 after 2 weekends. They will take on Western Carolina in Cullowhee on Tuesday at 5:00 and then return home to Cleveland S Harley Park for Easter Weekend to host the Longwood Lancers. That series begins Thursday at 5:00, continues Friday at 5, and will conclude on Saturday at 2:00. After a lopsided 16-3 midweek win over Presbyterian College down in Clinton Wednesday night, the Wofford Terriers took a step out of Southern Conference action this weekend, hosting the Siena College Saints. The series got underway with a double header on Saturday and wrapped up Sunday afternoon.
We saw a little bit of everything in this series when it comes to things that either have A) been uncharacteristic of the Terriers this season or B) we have not gotten out of an opponent this season to date.
Game one of the double dip Saturday saw a perfect example of both of those 2. On a day at “The Railyard” that blustery would be a horribly insufficient adjective to describe, where pollen and infield dirt were getting kicked up much to the chagrin of the eyes and sinuses of allergy sufferers, Matthew Marchal took to the hill.
Matthew, who as pointed out last week, has struggled to turn in long outings this season and has had to grind his way through, a thing that as the most veteran starter in the rotation, is not ideal. Despite that, he has managed to grind to 3 wins this season, and on Saturday afternoon, he may have flipped his script for this season.
He pitched 5 innings, and surrendered 5 hits. But, he did not walk a single batter, and gave up just 1 extra base hit – a solo home run that served as Siena’s lone run of the contest. Marchal also logged 6 strikeouts. By far, this was his most crisp outing of the season, and that can do wonders for him as the Terriers enter the meat of their SoCon schedule next weekend.
Aside from Marchal, Lucas Mahlstedt also put together an outstanding 4 shutout innings, striking out 4 and surrendering just 3 hits, only one for extra bases, on a 2 out 9th inning double.
Aside from Marchal finding his groove and Mahlstedt helping keep Siena at bay, the other anomalies from game 1 were the lack of extra base hits by the Terriers and the number of times they were caught stealing. Wofford had just 1 XBH in the game – a 3rd inning leadoff double from Designated Hitter Gunnar Johnson. The other 6 hits accrued by the Terrier bats were all singles. That is fine in and of itself. Wofford’s offense thrives on aggression on the base paths. Lots of stolen bases, big extra base hits, and runs scored in bunches.
They had no trouble getting runners on with 7 hits. However, every time they sent a runner, it seems they were being erased. Siena gunned down 3 would-be base stealers at 2nd. That prevented them from being able to get their offense going. In the end, the difference came through playing small ball.
Third Baseman David Wiley was hit by a pitch with 2 out in the bottom of the 2nd. Catcher Cameron Gill followed it up with a 2 strike single through the right side that allowed Wiley to go 1st to 3rd. Cameron Gill ended up getting caught in a rundown between 1st and 2nd, and in the chaos of the moment, Wiley stole home just before Gill was officially caught stealing 2-4-3 to end the inning. That run gave Wofford the early 1-0 lead.
Though Siena answered with the home run off Marchal, the Terrier bats rallied for 1 more run. Left Fielder Trey Yunger led off the home half of the 4th with a single and was the first of just 2 Terriers able to successfully steal 2nd. David Wiley came through with an RBI single with 2 out.
Wofford went on to open the series with a 2-1 win, led by Yunger and Wiley. Wiley went 1 for 3 with the lone RBI. Yunger was 2-3 at the dish.
Game 2 was much more Wofford-like. By that, I mean that their offense was able to execute the way they normally do. The Terriers, seemingly without fail to the point you can almost bet on it, tend to have 1 game per series where they have a breakout inning and score somewhere between 7 and 10 runs. That happened very early on in this contest.
The pace of the game was more like the classic baseball that many of us have loved our whole lives and much less like that new-fangled baseball with a pitch clock. In fact, the first 3 innings took nearly an hour and a half.
Wofford took an early 1-0 lead. Ryan Galanie drew a walk with 1 out and came around to score on a Trey Yunger RBI double. Siena answered with a 2 run homer to left off Terrier starter Charlie Weber, whose only flaw in his 5 innings of work was that he gave up 2 more solo home runs, one each in the 3rd and 4th inning. He had 4 runs tagged to his name on 5 hits with 4 strikeouts and no walks in the game where his offense ultimately helped him earn the win.
Wofford answered the 2 run shot by the Saints with an 8 spot in the ensuing half inning to take a 9-2 lead to the 3rd.
The “T-Dogs” added a single run in the 3rd, 3 in both the 4th and 5th, and 2 in the 6th, ultimately taking the series and sweeping the double header via a run rule 17-5 win in 7 innings.
Only 2 Wofford players failed to log at least 1 RBI in the game, led by Trey Yunger, who went 3 for 4 with 2 batted in and 3 runs scored. Gunnar Johnson was a perfect 2-2 at the dish with 2 driven in and a run scored. Brice Martinez went 1 for 5, reaching in 3 consecutive plate appearances by means of a hit by pitch with an RBI and 3 runs scored.
The series finale on Sunday did not go ideally at all for Wofford. Zac Cowan got the start and he was tagged for 4 runs, 3 earned over the first 4 innings of the game. The Terriers struck for 1 run on an RBI groundout in the bottom of the 4th, but once again the Saints struck for a run in each of the middle 3 innings to go up 6-1.
Jack Renwick managed to make a comeback a feasible possibility in the 7th inning with a 3 run homer to left, but that would be all the Terriers could muster for the rest of the day, falling 7-4.
Marshall Toole was 2 for 3 with a walk, but no RBIs or runs scored. Renwick led the way in the RBI column with 3 on the homer, part of a 1 for 2 day at the plate.
The Terriers have a midweek trip down to Patriots’ Point in Charleston to take on Chad Holbrook’s College of Charleston Cougars on Tuesday at 4:00 PM. They’ll follow that up by returning to SoCon play on the road over Easter weekend at East Tennessee State, with Thursday’s first pitch set for 6:00 PM, Friday at 6, and the finale Saturday at 3.