SPARTANBURG, S.C. – A fast start by USC Upstate meant trouble for the Lipscomb baseball team Sunday afternoon.
The Bisons dropped the final contest of a three-game ASUN Conference series 16-7 to the Spartans at Harley Park. Upstate tallied its second most runs of the season and its third most base hits with 17.
Upstate stripped Lipscomb of its chance at a weekend sweep to open conference play. The Bisons are now 16-11 overall and 2-1 in league play, while the Spartans improved to 14-17 and 1-2.
USC Upstate quickly built a 9-1 lead in the first inning after bringing 13 batters to the plate on eight base hits. After tacking on another run in the second, the Spartans put an exclamation point on the day with a 4-run frame in the bottom of the fourth when first baseman Charlie Carpenter blasted a 2-run home run over the fence in left to extend their lead to 14-1.
Lipscomb tried to crawl back into the contest with five runs in the top of the sixth.
Sophomore first baseman Cade Sorrells singled with one out and later scored on a wild pitch. The Bisons loaded the bases on a Zeke Dodson single and walks from Jake Perry and Blake Thomas to set the stage for Hunter Hanks. After taking a first-pitch strike, Hanks launched a grand slam over the fence in left center to trim the Spartans lead to 15-6.
The Bisons added their final run of the day in the eighth frame after Von Watson ripped a 2-out single up the middle before scoring on an Upstate fielding error in the next at-bat.
For Lipscomb, Dayton Tripp (2-2) drew his first career start in ASUN play and it was a rough one. The junior transfer allowed six hits and seven runs (five earned) in only one-third of an inning. Kyle Kemp, Alex Dorso, Nicko Ortega and Dallas Gibson worked in relief.
Gibson was the only reliever who did not allow a run. He tossed the final three stanzas, giving up no hits and three walks with three strikeouts. He got the Bisons out of a bases-loaded jam with two ground ball force outs at the plate in the sixth.
Offensively the Bisons had 10 hits, including a 3-hit performance from Dodson and 2-hit performances from Michael Gigliotti and Tyler Bethune.
Carpenter led five Spartans with multiple-hits after going 5-for-6 with three RBI and two runs scored. Russell Schwertfeger and Devon Ortiz lead the team with four RBI each. Blake Whitney (4-2) got the win after giving up six runs on six hits in 5.1 innings. He walked four and struck out four. Freshman Connor Campbell picked up his first career save.
AROUND THE HORNS:
- The 16 runs scored by Upstate was the second most in conference play in the last four seasons. They scored 21 in a meeting with FGCU last season.
- Dodson extended his hitting streak to 11 games and his on-base streak to 12. Both are team highs.
- Gigliotti recorded his fifth double of the year after leading off the game with a shot down the right field line.
- The four RBI ties a career high from Hanks. It’s his second 4-RBI performance of the season after also doing the same at Middle Tennessee.
- Upstate left 12 men on base, compared to seven for Lipscomb
- The 17 hits are the most Lipscomb has given up this season while the 16 runs are tied for the most.
- Lipscomb’s staff allowed seven walks in the loss, the most since issuing 11 at Auburn on March 3.
- The five Lipscomb errors are the most since committing six against Miami-Ohio in February of 2014.
The Bisons now turn their thoughts to a midweek meeting at Tennessee Tech before returning home to resume ASUN play with a pivotal series against North Florida at Dugan Field. Tuesday’s game with the in-state rivals begins at 6 p.m.