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July 27, 2007
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Rising senior Kyle Bowley isn't the only member of the USC Upstate baseball team that is finding success on the diamond this summer, as sophomore Matt Branham (pictured), senior Scott Eckard, sophomore Dennis McCraney and sophomore Jimmy Tanner are all contributing to their respective collegiate summer league teams.
Bowley, who was named to the Coastal Plains League All-Star Game, finished second in the CPL Home Run Derby and went 2-for-3 during the All-Star Game last Tuesday. Playing with the Spartanburg Stingers, Bowley is hitting .286 with three home runs and 24 RBIs.
Branham, a 6-5 right-hander, is a vital part of the Columbia Blowfish' bullpen in the Coastal Plains Leage. In nine appearances and 20.2 innings pitched, Branham has a 1-0 record and has picked up one save while striking out 11 and walking just five. He has a 3.92 ERA.
Eckerd, a 6-1 left-hander, has led the Sanford River Rats on the hill all season, posting a 1-1 record and a 1.80 ERA in five starts. He has tossed 25 innings, allowing just 17 hits for a paltry opponents' .200 batting average. He has also added 33 strikeouts, which is eighth in the league, and walked just eight.
McCraney, a 6-1 southpaw, has likewise been a key left-handed gun in the Carolina Sox' arsenal in the Southern Collegiate League. He is 1-0 with a 4.07 ERA, having appeared in eight games and tossing 24.1 innings. McCraney has been devastatingly accurate, allowing just three walks and striking out 24.
Tanner, a 5-11 catcher/first baseman, has played primarily first base for the Battle Creek Bombers in the Northwoods League. He is third on the team in hitting, posting a .305 average, notching 32 hits in 105 at bats. He has five doubles and 13 RBIs to go along with eight runs scored.
USC Upstate signee Phillip Myers (Louisville, Ky./Seminole C.C.) has also found success with the Bombers, going 2-3 for the team, appearing in 13 games and starting four. The 6-5 southpaw has struck out 19 and walked 16. Another signee, Phillip Morgan (Inman, S.C./Spartanburg Methodist College) is playing summer ball with the Spartanburg Crickets at USC Upstate's Harley Park. He leads the team with eight doubles and his two home runs are second on the squad. He also has 11 RBIs, which is second on the team.
The Spartans, under 11th-year head coach Matt Fincher, are set to move to Division I and the Atlantic Sun Conference in 2008 after finishing the 2007 season with a 34-25 record and a 15-15 mark in the Division II Peach Belt Conference. The team held a national ranking for much of the season, reaching as high as 18th. Fincher has led the baseball program to three straight 30-win seasons.