Upstate Drops 2 of 3 to Asheville
We have reached the halfway point of the conference season in college baseball with things looking pretty good for both USC Upstate and Wofford.
Both squads were on the road this weekend, and ironically only about 50 miles apart from each other up in the North Carolina mountains. USC Upstate was in Asheville to take on the UNC Asheville Bulldogs while Wofford was in Cullowhee to take on Western Carolina.
Last time out: Both teams played on Tuesday night in midweek action. Upstate fell to South Carolina 7-2 down in Columbia. Wofford hosted Presbyterian College and cruised to an 18-1 win behind 4 RBIs from both Trey Yunger and David Wiley, as well as 3 RBIs on 3 hits from Ryan Galanie.
Upstate started things off in ideal fashion, adding to their best start in conference play since making the transition to division 1 back in 2007 with a 10-4 win in a game that was delayed 2 hours by passing showers.
Troy Hamilton got the Spartans on the board early with a sac fly in the top of the first that plated Kyle Henington, who led off with a walk and went first to third on a single from Cole Caruso. That would be it as Grant Sherrod struck out and Easton Cullison grounded to short.
Reese Dutton went to the hill for the Spartans, and things got off to a bit of a shaky start for him. He struggled with his command, walking one and throwing 3 wild pitches with a pair of singles, leading to a pair of runs crossing the plate in the bottom of the 1st.
Dutton settled in nicely from that point on, going 6 innings with just 3 runs (2 earned) on 8 hits with 7 strikeouts and 3 walks to earn his 6th win of the season. Al Holguin went the rest of the way, surrendering just 1 earned on a solo homer in the bottom of the 9th to secure his first save.
The Spartans’ bats used a 3 run third and a 4 run 5th to help put the gap on the Bulldogs, going on to win the opener 10-4. Redshirt Sophomore Ty Tilson led the way, adding to a streak of 5 straight games (counting this on) with at least 1 RBI. Tilson tabbed 3 RBIs on a 2 for 4 night with a run scored. Troy Hamilton and Daniel Gernon also tallied 2 RBIs each on a combined 2 for 7 with 2 runs scored.
Game 2 was nearly the opposite of the opener. Henry Proger got the start and struggled from the beginning. He surrendered a run on an RBI double in the bottom of the 2nd. After a leadoff walk in the 3rd, he gave up a 2 run homer. With 2 out in the 4th, he walked back to back hitters before surrendering a 3 run blast that ended his day. He went just 3 and two-thirds innings with 7 runs, 6 earned with 4 walks, 2 K’s, and 5 hits, taking his 4th loss of the season in a game the Spartans dropped 9-4 to even the series.
The lone highlight of the day for Upstate on the offensive side was the 5th inning when catcher David Pereira hit a 3 run homer to cut the deficit to 7-4. The long ball was his third of the season and helped make his 2nd straight game with multiple RBIs, upping his series total to 5.
The rubber game on Sunday was not a pretty one.. Well, not if you are a fan of clean fielding. The Spartans made 4 errors in the game, which all proved to be very costly.
Upstate took an early lead on a Grant Sherrod RBI groundout in the top of the 1st. Asheville very quickly answered with 2 runs in the bottom half of the inning. All in all, the Bulldogs scored 10 runs in the game, and only 1 of them was earned. Mathieu Curtis surrendered 4 runs (1 earned) in 2 and 2 thirds innings of work on 4 hits with a walk and 2 strikeouts. Five other Upstate arms combined to go the rest of the way, giving up 6 runs on 7 hits.
In spite of the defensive woes, the Spartans’ bats managed to keep them in the game. On three occasions, USCU led the game. Both sides traded blows up until UNC Asheville scored 6 unanswered over the course of the 7th and 8th innings.
Grant Sherrod and Ty Tilson led the way with 2 RBIs a piece. For Sherrod, it marked his 11th game this season with multiple RBIs, which leads all Spartan hitters.
The series loss is the Spartans’ first in Big South play this season, but they still stand at 9-3 in the league, which matches their best start through 12 conference games since they transitioned to the Big South back in 2019. Upstate gets back to action on Tuesday night when they return to Harley Park for the first of 4 home games this week. They will face Western Carolina with first pitch set for 5:00. Next weekend, they host Radford in a 3 game set starting Friday at 5, continuing Saturday at 2, and wrapping up Sunday at 1:00.
Wofford also found themselves waiting out a few raindrops up on the mountain Friday night, and just like their cross-town counterparts, the Terriers had a great offensive showing paired with strong pitching.
On the bump, Coulson Buchanan got the start. He went just 5 innings and gave up 5 runs on 6 hits with 4 walks and 6 strikeouts. Lucas Mahlstedt came into a 7-5 ballgame in the 7th inning and managed to hold the Catamounts scoreless to make for a 3 inning save.
Offensively, the Terriers were led by Marshall Toole and Dixon Black, who both had 3 RBIs. Toole was 1-5 with a run scored. Black was also 1-5 with a walk. Trey Yunger and Gunnar Johnson logged 2 RBIs each while David Wiley and Ryan Galanie had 1 apiece in the 12-5 series-opening win.
Wofford went down after scoring 2 in the top of the 1st inning of game 2 when Western Carolina hit a 3 run homer, capping a 4 run rally that started with a 1 out single and a 2 out walk.
Wofford starting pitcher Charlie Weber labored his way through 3 innings, surrendering one more earned run in the bottom of the 3rd that ended his day with 5 earned on 4 hits with a walk.
Down 5-2, Wofford chipped away over the next 4 innings with 1 run in the 4th, another single run in the 6th, and a 3 run homer by Gunnar Johnson in the 7th that gave the Terriers an 8-5 lead.
They added a run in the 8th to go up 9-5 before Western Carolina got back into the game with a 2 out 3 run homer that cut the lead to 1. After the Terriers squandered a chance to add another insurance run in the 9th, the Catamounts rallied off Terrier closer Luke Stephens.
Down to their last strike with 2 outs, Western Carolina walked it off with a pair of singles and a 2 run double off the wall in left to even the series with a 10-9 win.
The rubber game went down in much more typical Wofford fashion. The Terriers struck quickly with a pair of 2 run homers from Ryan Galanie and David Wiley. They added on with 1 in the 2nd, two in the 3rd, and a single run in the 4th.
After a 4 run rally in the bottom of the 4th by WCU that cut the lead down to 8-5, Wofford blew it wide open in the 5th with an 8 spot, capped by another Gunnar Johnson 3 run homer.
The Terrier bats easily put up enough to make this game short and sweet, as the Terriers run ruled their way to a 17-6 victory to take the series and improve to 6-3 in the SoCon. Matthew Marchal went the distance, picking up his 7th win of the year, grinding despite 6 runs on 6 hits with 5 strikeouts.
Wofford goes on the road to Rock Hill on Tuesday night to take on Winthrop with first pitch set for 6:00. They’ll return home to Russell C King Field the following weekend for a crucial SoCon showdown with the league-leading Samford Bulldogs, who the Terriers trail by a game. The opener is set for Friday at 5:00 and will be televised on the CW 62. Game 2 is Saturday at 3, and the finale is set for Sunday at 1:00.