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March 27, 2010
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Senior Matt Branham (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley) gave one of the most dominating performances of his career in Saturday's getaway game, as he tossed a complete-game eight hitter, striking out six, to lead USC Upstate to a 3-1 win over Belmont to split an Atlantic Sun Conference doubleheader at Shelby Park. Belmont won the first game of the doubleheader, 8-2.
Branham (2-2) tossed the full nine innings for the fourth complete game of his career and his first since his final start of 2008, throwing 140 pitches and leaving eight Bruins stranded to snap Upstate's 16-game losing streak, which tied the school record set in 2001-02.
The Spartans (8-18 overall, 1-8 A-Sun) responded to Belmont (15-10 overall, 4-5 A-Sun) scoring the tying run in the bottom of the sixth by scoring two runs with a gutsy offensive performance in the seventh inning. Freshman Brody Greer (Honea Path, S.C./Belton-Honea Path) led off the inning with a double into the left-center field gap. He took third on a wild pitch, then scored on a sac fly by sophomore Blake Green (Rock Hill, S.C./Northwestern) that was dropped, allowing Green to take second. A grounder to third moved Green to third and freshman Trey Richardson (Lakeland, Fla./George Jenkins) lifted a sac fly to center to bring him in.
Upstate scored first, crossing a single run in the second inning, as freshman Gaither Bumgardner (Fort Lawn, S.C./Great Falls) singled with two outs and junior Andre Harris (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids C.C.) hit an opposite field single. After junior Joe Barnes (Lake Orion, Mich./Grand Rapids C.C.) walked, Bumgardner scored on a wild pitch.
The Spartans nearly added to the lead in the third, as sophomore Jeff Medley (Greensboro, N.C./Southeast Guilford) was robbed of a two-run homer at the fence in left center field, with Mark Noth hauling in the catch above his head and over the red wall at Shelby Park.
Upstate's defense, meanwhile, stood solid on its own, with Harris throwing a runner out on a line at third base from left field on a hit-and-run single in the fourth inning.
On the mound, Branham was on target, allowing runners to in each of the first four innings, but stranding five, picking off one and getting the outfield assist to keep the Bruins off the scoreboard. He set down the side in order, before a Dylan Craig leadoff walk came around to score in the sixth thanks to a sac bunt, a fly out that moved him to third and an infield single by Tim Eggerton.
Frank Adelman (0-1) took the loss despite pitching well, allowing six hits, three runs, two earned and three walks in seven innings. He struck out two, but was overshadowed by the power-pitching Branham, who reached the low 90s with several fastballs in the game. He won his 13th career game, moving into a tie for eighth in school history with former teammate Dennis McCraney (2006-09).
Greer led the Spartans, going 2-for-4 with a run, while Bumgardner also had two hits and a run. Derek Hamblem and Vinny Casha each had two of Belmont's eight hits.
In the first game, Belmont was able to take advantage of 11 walks to go with just seven hits to score eight runs while Chase Brookshire allowed just six hits and two runs in eight innings to lead Belmont to the 8-2 win.
Brookshire (4-0) walked two and struck out seven to earn the win, while Upstate freshman Scott DeCecco (Cape May Courthouse, N.J./Middle Township) took the loss, allowing three hits, seven walks and six runs in 3 1/3 innings. He struck out three.
The Bruins jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning thanks to four walks and a hit batter. Another run came in the second for Belmont as the Bruins mixed a walk and a two-out double by Dylan Craig.
Upstate got a pair of runs in the third to cut the Belmont lead to a single run, as senior Brian Dempsey (Montverde, Fla./East Ridge) led off with a double to left center. After a pair of fly outs, one of which moved Dempsey to third base, sophomore Blake Green (Rock Hill, S.C./Northwestern) drew a two-out walk and senior Jimmy Tanner (Fayetteville, Ga./Starr's Mill) singled into left center to drive in Dempsey. Senior Tyler Cook (Bloomington, Ill./University) followed with a single through the right side to bring in Green.
Belmont got another run thanks to a single, a hit-and-run single and a safety squeeze bunt. Two walks and two singles helped Belmont score three in the fourth inning to take a 7-2 lead. Another run came across in the sixth inning, thanks to a pair of singles, a hit batter and a sac fly.
Upstate was led by Tanner, who went 3-for-3 with a RBI and Dempsey added two hits, a run and a double. Belmont was led by two runs each from Packy Elkins, Derek Hamblen and Nate Woods, who also added two RBI. Tim Eggerton posted two hits and two RBI and Dylan Craig also had two hits.
Sophomore Austin Moyer (Greensboro, N.C./Southeast Guilford) pitched well in relief, allowing no hits and three walks in three innings of scoreless relief.
Upstate gets back into action on Tuesday at Harley Park when UNC Ashville visits for a 6 p.m. non-conference tilt.