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USC- Upstate Falls In Pitcher’s Duel At Lipscomb, 3-0


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – With two of the best pitchers in the Atlantic Sun Conference on the mound, Saturday afternoon’s game between the raindrops at Ken Dugan Field was even better than advertised. Nine hits. 20 strikeouts. Only three runners got past second base.

Unfortunately for the USC Upstate baseball team, all three runners scored for Lipscomb in the bottom of the sixth innings, as the Bisons survived Upstate’s second straight five-hitter to win, 3-0, in the opener of the three-game conference set.

Neither team was able to create any offense through the first five innings. The teams combined for just four hits, two off both Rex Brothers, Lipscomb’s ace southpaw, and Upstate junior Matt Branham (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley).

In the top of the sixth, Upstate (5-8 overall, 1-3 A-Sun) got its first of two runners to second base off Brothers, who struck out the side in the second and retired 12 in a row before senior Eric Guillen (Thousand Oaks, Calif./Thousand Oaks) hit a two-out double to center field. After a walk, Brothers hunkered down to get a strikeout and end the inning.

Finally, in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Bisons (6-8 overall, 3-1 A-Sun) broke through, thanks to a leadoff fly ball that turned into a three-base error. The Bisons’ ninth-batter, Antonio Butler, followed with an opposite field shot that barely cleared the fence and with two outs, the Bisons leading hitter, Justin Sanders, hit a homer to left-center, helping Lipscomb to a 3-0 lead.

Brothers retired eight in a row after the sixth inning walk before sophomore Blake Green (Rock Hill, S.C./Northwestern) walked with one out in the ninth. The Bisons got a stroke of luck as junior Jimmy Tanner (Fayetteville, Ga./Starr’s Mill) hit a ball that appeared headed through the right side when it hit Green in the leg for the second out. Senior Phillip Morgan (Campobello, S.C./Spartanburg Methodist) singled through the left side and then freshman Jeff Medley (Greensboro, N.C./Southeast Guilford) hit a grounder to third and the throw to first just barely cut him down at first to end the game.

Brothers (3-1) threw the complete nine innings, allowing four hits for the first shutout against the Spartans in the Division I era. He struck out 13 and walked two, as he shut out the Spartans for the first time since Presbyterian held down Upstate, 4-0, on Feb. 17, 2007.

Branham (0-2) looked sharp, as he posted his second quality start of the season for Upstate. He allowed just four hits and one earned run in his seven innings, as he struck out six. He walked three, but faced just one over the minimum through the first five innings, as he benefited from a pickoff, a caught stealing and a double play.

Sophomore Tim Fournier (Seneca, S.C./Walhalla) threw a scoreless eighth, allowing a hit and striking out one.

No batter had more than one hit in the game, but Sanders and Butler each hit homers for Lipscomb.

The Spartans and Bisons will wrap up their three-game set on Sunday with a doubleheader set for noon (CT) at Ken Dugan Field.

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