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Spartans Hold Off Late 49ers Rally, Beat Defending A-10 Champs, 4-3

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Junior Barrett Stover posted his third save of the season as he shut down Charlotte in the ninth on Tuesday.

Junior Barrett Stover posted his third save of the season as he shut down Charlotte in the ninth on Tuesday.

March 17, 2009

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Having lost four straight games, all to 2008 NCAA Regional teams, the USC Upstate baseball team wasn't being given a break on Tuesday night at Robert and Miriam Hayes Stadium when it faced the 2008 Atlantic 10 champions, Charlotte. But, as the old adage goes, you make your own breaks, and Upstate got out of a runners on first and third situation with two outs in the ninth to take a 4-3 decision over the 49ers, who were receiving votes in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll and had won 10 straight games.

In the process, Upstate not only picked up its first win in the Division I era against a team earning votes in a DI national poll, it also snapped Charlotte's perfect record at Hayes Stadium in 2009, as it entered the game a perfect 9-0.

Upstate (6-10 overall) left the bases loaded in the eighth and junior Tyler Oliver (Lawrenceville, Ga./Collins Hill) ran into trouble quickly in the ninth after cruising through four innings of relief. After a leadoff walk to Corey Shaylor, a costly error on a groundball in the infield put runners on second and third. A passed ball cut the lead to 4-2 and a walk left runners on first and third when junior Barrett Stover (Durham, N.C./Lenoir C.C.) took the mound.

Stover got a grounder to second for a fielder's choice, but it scored Brown from third to make it a one-run game. A fly ball to Simpson in center gave Upstate a second out, but on a 1-1 pitch to Grant Bowmann, a hit and run worked to perfection, as Spartan second baseman Green had to change direction and could only get a glove on the grounder, moving the runner to third. A fly to deep left field, though, was corralled by Bisgounis to end the threat.

"It was a great game for us," Upstate head coach Matt Fincher said. "We took advantage of some of their miscues and we played resiliently, especially in the ninth inning. After this last stretch, I hope that beating such a good team will help us build confidence on Wednesday and this weekend."

The Spartan pitching staff held the hot-hitting 49ers (10-4 overall) down all game, allowing just nine hits and stranding nine on base. Upstate was led by its own version of a lucky charm in senior Dennis McCraney (Catawba, S.C./Rock Hill), who earned his second win of the season by tossing 3 1/3 innings in a predetermined short start. He allowed just seven hits, two walks and a run while striking out two, leading the Spartans to their 11th win in as many career starts by the southpaw.

Oliver posted one of his best performances in his career in relief of Oliver, tossing 4 2/3 innings, allowing just one hit and three walks. He struck out three and gave up two runs, both unearned, in the 49ers ninth-inning rally. Before the ninth inning, Oliver allowed just one runner to reach third base. Stover finished the game by getting the last three outs for his third save, allowing just the infield single.

Upstate got out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning, as it loaded the bases with two outs. Senior Phillip Morgan (Campobello, S.C./Spartanburg Methodist) hit an opposite field single to lead off and after a fly out, sophomore Keith Bisgounis (Oviedo, Fla./Oviedo) laid down a bunt single down the first base line. After a strikeout, an error put freshman Austin Liput (Oviedo, Fla./Trinity Prep) on base, setting up senior Kyle Simpson (Lyman, S.C./Byrnes), who drove in Morgan by getting hit in the back with a 2-2 pitch. Senior Eric Guillen (Thousand Oaks, Calif./Thousand Oaks) delivered an opposite field single to make it, 2-0.

The 49ers answered with a single tally in the bottom of the inning, as they grouped together two hits and a walk as Shane Brown drove in Aaron Bray with a two-out single.

Upstate took back its two-run advantage in the top of the third thanks to a fortuitous bounce, as Morgan reached after striking out on a curveball in the dirt, advancing to second after a throwing error. A double deep to right-center by freshman Austin Moyer (Greensboro, N.C./Southeast Guilford) drove in the run.

The Spartans threatened to add to the lead in the fifth inning as junior Jimmy Tanner (Fayetteville, Ga./Starr's Mill) doubled to left center with one out, but a groundout and fly out ended the threat. Runners were left on second and third by Upstate in the sixth, as two errors helped Bisgounis and senior Tommy Shovlin (Merritt Island, Fla./Daytona Beach C.C.) reach before being stranded.

The Spartans finally did add to the lead with a single tally in the seventh inning, as sophomore Blake Green (Rock Hill, S.C./Northwestern) singled to left in front of a diving shortstop. Tanner followed with a bunt single, his second of the year, to move Green to second and a sac bunt moved the runners into scoring position. A groundout by Moyer brought in Green before another grounder ended the inning.

Green and Tanner each had two hits to lead the Spartans, while Morgan scored twice and Moyer drove two in, as the top six hitters in Upstate's lineup had all eight hits.

Justin Wilson went 3-for-5 for Charlotte and both Bowmann and Brown had two hits for the 49ers. Andrew Smith (2-1) took the loss for Charlotte, pitching five innings, allowing five hits and three unearned runs. Only one of Upstate's four runs on the night was earned.

The Spartans will stay on the road for the baseball team's first trip to Clemson on Wednesday, as they meet the No. 19 Tigers at 6:30 p.m.

USC Upstate Baseball
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