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USC-Upsate Bats Cruise In 12-1 Win Over Gardner Webb

Ryan Fern pitched 6 1/3 innings in his first career start, leading Upstate past Gardner-Webb, 12-1

Ryan Fern pitched 6 1/3 innings in his first career start, leading Upstate past Gardner-Webb, 12-1


BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. – Freshman Ryan Fern (Oviedo, Fla./Winter Springs) allowed just five hits in 6 1/3 innings of shutout baseball and back-to-back homers from junior Jimmy Tanner (Fayetteville, Ga./Starr’s Mill) and senior Phillip Morgan (Campobello, S.C./Spartanburg Methodist) highlighted a six-run seventh inning as the USC Upstate baseball team downed 2008 Atlantic Sun Conference runner-up Gardner-Webb, 12-1, in non-conference action on Tuesday afternoon at Masters Field.

Gardner-Webb (3-2) moved out of the A-Sun at the conclusion of the 2008 season and moved into the Big South, but the Spartans (2-2) and Bulldogs still kept a home-and-home agreement as the schools are just 40 minutes apart.

Fern (1-0), making his first collegiate start, allowed just five hits in his time on the mound, walking and striking out three. The Oviedo, Fla., native allowed just two runners to reach third base and retired seven in a row from the first to third innings. He also got some solid help from a stout Spartan defense. With runners on second and third with no outs in the fourth inning, sophomore Blake Green (Rock Hill, S.C./Northwestern) made a leaping, snow cone grab of a liner for an out and then freshman Jeff Medley (Greensboro, N.C./Southeast Guilford) fielded a grounder at third and tagged the runner at third as he retreated to the bag. Fern got out of the jam with a strikeout and no runner got past second base after that.

Upstate’s offense, meanwhile, was clicking. With a 6-0 lead in the seventh inning, the Spartans exploded for six runs. Medley led the inning off with a single and junior Brian Dempsey (Montverde, Fla./East Ridge) reached on a bunt single before a sac bunt moved them to second and third. After a groundout, Green walked to load the bases and senior Eric Gullen (Thousand Oaks, Calif./Thousand Oaks) sneaked a double down the line to score two runs. Tanner followed with a three-run homer to left field and Morgan followed with a towering blast to left to close out the scoring in the inning.

After leaving the bases loaded in the first inning, the Spartans scored twice in the second frame. Senior Tommy Shovlin (Merritt Island, Fla./Daytona Beach C.C.) walked with one out and after a pop out, Green hit an opposite field single. Guillen walked and Tanner was hit by a pitch in the helmet to drive in Shovlin. Green scored on a wild pitch.

Two more runs scored in the third, as Medley singled up the middle with one out. A wild pitch moved him to second and after a groundout, Shovlin hit an infield single to score Medley. Senior Kyle Simpson (Lyman, S.C./Byrnes) hit a ball deep into center field and slid safely into third, having driven in Shovlin.

Upstate got two more runs in the fifth, as Shovlin posted a two-out single and Simpson followed with a bunt single. A single to right field from Green scored Shovlin and when the throw got away from the Gardner-Webb infield, Simpson scored.

Tanner went 4-for-4 with a run and four RBIs and Guillen went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and a run to lead the Spartans. Both Green and Medley had two hits and two runs and Shovlin posted two hits and three runs. Simpson added two hits, a run and a RBI. Matt Rizzuto led Gardner-Webb, going 2-for-3.

Sophomore Tim Fournier (Seneca, S.C./Walhalla) pitched well in relief, allowing one hit and striking out one in 1 2/3 innings. Junior Barrett Stover (Durham, N.C./Lenoir C.C.) allowed the lone run in the ninth inning, but he did strike out two in the frame. Jake Watts (0-1) took the loss for Gardner-Webb, allowing six hits, four runs and three walks in three innings. He struck out two.

Upstate will get back into action on Thursday when it travels downtown to face Wofford at 7 p.m. at Russell C. King Field.

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