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May 5, 2009
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - In one fell swoop, the USC Upstate baseball team handed junior Matt Branham (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley) more than half the run production he had seen in his first 10 starts and the 6-6 hurler didn't let it go to waste, as he pitched eight innings of two-run baseball to help the Spartans down Wofford, 13-2, on Tuesday afternoon at Harley Park. It was Upstate first win over the crosstown rival in the Division I era (three meetings) and the first win in the series between the two teams since a 16-2 win at Duncan Park on March 28, 1995 when both were in Division II.
Branham (1-4) picked up his 10th career victory in the effort, as he moved into a tie for 13th in school history in the category. He struck out seven and gave up seven hits while walking none in his eight innings, helping to move him into fourth in school history in career strikeouts with 165. His 69 punchouts in 68 innings in 2009 is just 11 strikeouts shy of the school record of 80 set by Michael Stone in 2000. In his 10 previous starts this season, Upstate had provided just 25 runs of support when he was on the mound, accounting for his hard-luck record.
Meanwhile, the Upstate offense clicked into motion after nine days off due to exams, posting an eight-run third inning and a four-run fourth to take a commanding 12-1 lead, with eight of the nine players in the lineup roping a hit. Five players notched two hits, with freshman Austin Moyer (Greensboro, N.C./Southeast Guilford) leading the way, as he went 2-for-2 with three walks, a double, a triple, a run and three RBI. Junior Ryan Wilkins (Spartanburg, S.C./Spartanburg Methodist) added two hits and two runs and senior Eric Guillen (Thousand Oaks, Calif./Thousand Oaks) had two hits, two runs and two RBI, moving himself into 11th in school history in career hits. Junior Jimmy Tanner (Fayetteville, Ga./Starr's Mill) went 2-for-5 with two runs and two RBI and sophomore Keith Bisgounis (Oviedo, Fla./Oviedo) added two hits, a run and two RBI.
Senior Phillip Morgan (Campobello, S.C./Spartanburg Methodist) roped a double to extend his hitting streak to a school Division I-era record 15 games.
Wofford (17-26 overall) got on the board first with a single tally in the second inning, as two singles, a sac bunt and a fielder's choice produced a run. Upstate (11-33 overall) responded in a big way in the bottom of the third, though, as junior Brian Dempsey (Montverde, Fla./East Ridge) started a rally by reaching on a throwing error. Bisgounis was then hit by a pitch and Wilkins reached on a beautiful bunt single down the third base line to load the bases. Guillen gave Upstate the lead with a single up the middle and Tanner followed with a single off a diving shortstop's glove to bring in the third run of the inning. Morgan followed by getting hit with a curveball and Moyer drove in Guillen with a walk. Sophomore Blake Green (Rock Hill, S.C./Northwestern) followed with a single through the right side to drive in both Tanner and Morgan. Freshman Jeff Medley (Greensboro, N.C./Southeast Guilford) drew a walk to reload the bases before a double play finally recorded the first outs of the inning and brought in Moyer. Bisgounis singled into left field to bring in Green with the eighth and final run of the frame.
Wofford was quickly dismissed by Branham in the fourth on two flyouts and a strikeout, setting up more Upstate offense. Wilkins led off with a single to the shortstop and Guillen followed with a bunt single to third and a throwing error scored Wilkins on the play. Tanner dropped a single into right center to score Guillen and a double down the left-field line by Morgan put runners at second and third, where Moyer drove them in with a triple to right field that took a high hop over the right fielder's head.
Meanwhile, Branham continued to cruise, retiring 11 in a row from the third to the first out of the seventh inning before Mac Doyle homered over the right-center field wall. Branham responded by striking out the next two batters.
In the bottom of the seventh, Upstate scratched its final run across, as Dempsey doubled down the line to lead off and scored on a single to center field by Bisgounis. Branham ran into trouble in the eighth, letting the first two runners reach on singled before a strikeout and two popouts ended the threat and his day.
Freshman Adam Waters (Denver, N.C./Hopewell) retired the Terriers in order in the ninth to end the game.
Doyle and Kyle Behrendt led the Terriers with two hits a piece. Behrendt added a double and Doyle had the seventh-inning homer.
Anthony Rowland (1-2) took the loss for Wofford, pitching three innings and allowing 12 hits and nine runs. He walked three and struck out one.
Upstate is back in action at The Citadel on Wednesday. First pitch at Joseph Riley Park is set for 4 p.m.