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Feb. 22, 2008
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Senior Kyle Bowley (Apopka, Fla./Apopka) pitched seven innings of seven-hit, one-run baseball and the USC Upstate baseball team scored six runs in the fifth and sixth innings to help open the 2008 season and the Division I era with an 8-3 win over the New Jersey Institute of Technology in the opening game of the Courtyard by Marriott Baseball Classic at Harley Park on Friday night.
"We're glad we won our first game," Upstate head coach Matt Fincher said. "Now, we have to try to win tomorrow."
After giving up a first-inning run, Bowley was spectacular, striking out seven batters in the first three innings and cruising through seven innings of work, retiring seven in a row at one point. He finished the game with eight strikeouts against just one walk, falling one shy of his career-high of nine strikeouts. He moves into seventh place all-time at Upstate with 13 career wins and is tied for 12th with 119 career strikeouts.
"He pitched great," Fincher said. "He located his fastball well enough. He had a very nice slider. He threw some good changeups. That's as well as I've seen him through. He threw a good breaking ball tonight and that's a key to his success."
The Spartans (1-0) offense began to click in the fifth inning when freshman A.J. Clark (Colorado Springs, Colo./Colorado Springs Christian) lifted a leadoff double to right center. Junior Kyle Simpson (Lyman, S.C./Byrnes) followed with a bunt single laid perfectly down the third base line grass and freshman Keith Bisgounis (Oviedo, Fla./Oviedo) lifted a sacrifice fly to right field with Simpson moving to third base. After a pitching change, Simpson scored on a grounder to second with the infield in.
Upstate went back to work in the sixth inning thanks to the first batter reaching on an error and the next two walking to load the bases with no outs. A wild pitch brought in junior Phillip Morgan (Campobello, S.C./Spartanburg Methodist) and senior Andrew Maddox (Boiling Springs, S.C./Boiling Springs) delivered a single through a drawn-in infield to score two more runs and give Upstate a 6-2 lead.
The Spartans added single tallies in both the seventh and eighth innings, with Bowley even driving in senior Andrew Runion (Simpsonville, S.C./Mauldin) on a single through the left side in the seventh. In the eighth, Runion drove in a run with a bases loaded walk.
Bowley yielded to Runion in the eighth inning, as the senior who started the game at third base made his first career appearance on the mound. He allowed an unearned run, two hits and a walk in one inning and junior left-hander Dennis McCraney (Catawba, S.C./Rock Hill) closed the game by pitching an inning and allowing a hit, a walk and a run while striking out one.
The Spartans were led by Runion, Morgan and Tanner in the heart of the lineup with Runion going 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI, Morgan adding two hits in five trips and adding a run and Tanner going 1-for-2 with two walks and a run.
NJIT was led by three hits each from Mike Turner and Rob Pietrocola. Craig Binkiewicz also added two hits and a run scored.
P.J. Saporito, who threw a perfect game in the New York Collegiate Baseball League, took the loss for the Highlanders (0-1), as he threw 4 1/3 innings, allowing five hits, an earned run and two walks. He struck out five.
"Our strategy was to get him to throw a lot of pitches," Fincher said. "We know he's coming out of throwing out of a gym. We know his history, that he throws a lot of strikes, so we just tried to wear him out."
The Spartans and the rest of the Courtyard by Marriott Baseball Classic field will be in action with three games scheduled for Saturday at Harley Park, kicking off with an 11 a.m. game between NJIT and George Washington before the Spartans take the field at 2:30 p.m. to face UT-Martin and UT-Martin faces George Washington at 6 p.m. to wrap up the day.