9th inning explosion
Four-Run Ninth Inning Propels PC Past USC Upstate, 6-5
SPARTANBURG – The Presbyterian College baseball team used a four-run ninth inning to complete a 6-5 comeback victory over USC Upstate on Wednesday night at Harley Park. The Blue Hose improve to 15-13 on the season, while USC Upstate falls to 14-15 on the year.
Trailing 5-2 in the ninth, Cletis Avery came through with an RBI single and Weston Jackson followed with a two-RBI double to tie the game at 5-5. Peter Johnson moved Jackson to third with a sacrifice bunt and Jacob Midkiff hit a sacrifice fly to center to plate Jackson and put PC in front 6-5. Hayden Deal then retired the side in order in the bottom half to clinch the victory for the Blue Hose.
Jackson led the Blue Hose by driving in three runs and scoring another with a double and a walk. Avery went 1-for-3 on the night with a run and an RBI, while Tyler Weyenberg went 1-for-3 with two runs and two walks to extend his hitting streak to 23 games. Ryan Hedrick went 2-for-5 to record his fourth multi-hit game of the season.
Russell Thompson (1-0) earned the victory in relief for PC, going 1.0 inning and retiring all three batters he faced with a pair of strikeouts. Deal earned his fourth save of the season for PC, retiring the side in order in the ninth with a strikeout. Charlie Carpenter (1-2) was tagged with the loss, allowing two runs on three hits in an inning of work.
PC starter David Sauer went 3.0 scoreless innings and allowed two hits with two strikeouts against four walks. USC Upstate starter Cody Brittain tossed 3.2 innings pitched and allowed one unearned run on three hits with four walks against four strikeouts. By design, PC used eight pitchers on the night with Aaron Lesiak, Cole Norwood and Colton Springs each tossing scoreless innings in relief, in addition to Thompson and Deal.
PC opened the game with a run in the top half of the first, the third straight game that PC plated a run in its first at-bat. Weyenberg opened the game with a single up the middle to extend his hitting streak and put the leadoff man aboard. Avery would move him to second with a sacrifice bunt, before going to third on a fielder’s choice and scoring on an error to make it a 1-0 PC lead.
The Spartans put at least two runners aboard in each of the first three innings but Sauer was able to work out of it each time. The first two Spartans reached in the first inning but a 6-4-3 double play and a groundout ended the threat. USC Upstate then put runners on the corners with one out in the second but a 2-1 putout and a groundout would leave three stranded. It then got two on with two outs in the third but Sauer again induced a groundout to end the inning.
USC Upstate would break through with three runs in the fifth inning. The Spartans put runners on first and second with a walk and a single. Brittain then hit a three-run home run to left to clear the bases and give the Spartans a 3-0 lead.
PC added a run in the seventh to cut the lead to just a run. Glen Casaceli and Weyenberg opened the inning with back-to-back walks and Avery got his second sacrifice bunt of the game to move them to second and third with one out. Jackson plated Casaceli with an RBI groundout to short and cut the lead to 3-2.
USC Upstate would extend the lead with a pair of runs in the eighth. The Spartans opened the frame with a pair of walks and a hit-by-pitch to load the bases with no outs. Jordan Ford then singled past a diving Avery with the infield drawn in to score two runs and make it a 5-2 Upstate advantage. Thompson would come on and get two strikeouts and a groundout to strand two and end the inning.
The Blue Hose then put together its fourth run rally in the ninth inning for the comeback. Nick Wise pinch hit to open the inning and reached on an infield single. Weyenberg followed with a walk to put runners on first and second with no outs. Avery then singled through the right side to score Guy Casaceli, who pinch ran for Wise, and put runners at the corners still with no outs.
Jackson continued his clutch play, driving a ball down in to the left field corner that allowed both runners to score and tie the game at 5-5. Johnson would record his fourth sacrifice bunt of the year to move Jackson to third with one out. Midkiff then put PC in front for good with a sacrifice fly to center, his second of the season, to make it a 6-5 advantage.
J.J. Shimko and Zack Krider each went 2-for-4 at the plate to pace the Spartans. Brittain went 1-for-4 with a run and three RBIs on the three-run homer.
PC returns home for a three-game series against Winthrop this weekend, beginning Friday at 3 p.m. at the PC Baseball Complex.