Kennesaw, Ga. – USC Upstate hit five home runs in game two and seven on the day, including a grand slam in each game, to sweep the A-Sun doubleheader and three-game series from Kennesaw State Sunday afternoon at Bailey Park. The Spartans won game one, 8-2, and game two, 10-1.
Upstate improved to 17-4 overall and 3-0 in the A-Sun with the win. The Spartans have now swept the season series from Kennesaw State in each of the last three years (the teams played only once last year due to weather) and have won seven straight and 10 of the last 11 against the Owls. KSU fell to 15-9 overall and 0-3 in the league after Sunday’s action.
Upstate flexed its muscle to open A-Sun play at Kennesaw State. The Spartans entered the weekend having hit 30 home runs on the year. They finished the weekend with 40 after connecting on three in the series opener Saturday evening (16-3 win), two in Sunday’s first game (8-2 win) and five in Sunday’s finale (10-1 win) to belt 10 against the Owls. In all, Upstate pounded out 40 hits and scored 34 runs in the sweep of the Owls.
Upstate will return to action when it travels to Jonson City, Tenn., to take on East Tennessee State in a non-conference doubleheader at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Game 1 – Upstate 8, Kennesaw State 2
The action was fast and furious early in the game as the teams combined for five runs in the first two innings with Upstate taking a 4-1 lead. In the first, Spartan first baseman Cheyenne Griffin doubled to center to score Aly Schneider all the way from first to give Upstate a 1-0 lead. Kennesaw State responded with a run in the bottom of the frame on Megan Veringa’s RBI single.
The second inning was entertaining as well as Upstate plated three to open a 4-1 advantage. Kendall Settlemyre started things off with a leadoff home run, her fourth of the season, to give the Spartans a 2-1 lead. Lindsey Greeson followed with a two-out single and stolen base. Shellie Robinson and Schneider each followed with RBIs ingles as the Spartans took their 4-1 lead.
Greeson came up big in the bottom of the inning to end what could have been a big inning for Kennesaw State. The Owls put runners on second and third with one out. Spartan starter Amanda Storch got a strikeout to get the second out of the inning and Greeson came up with a big diving catch on Natalie Rhodes’ liner down the line to end the threat and keep the Spartan ahead, 4-1.
Kennesaw State inched closer in the third inning. The Owls put a runner on third with one out and brought her home on Veringa’s infield single to cut the Upstate lead to 4-2.
After three scoreless innings, Upstate put the game out of reach in the seventh, and Dana Landers supplied the big hit. The Spartans loaded the bases with no outs. After a line out to third gave Upstate one out, Landers cranked a grand slam over the wall in left to give the Spartans a commanding 8-2 lead. It was her fourth home run of the season.
Upstate pounded out 12 hits and scored eight runs to take the win. Robinson and Schneider each had three hits, while Landers had two to lead the Spartan bats. Storch pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning to secure the win for Upstate. She improved to 6-1 on the year and allowed two runs on eight Kennesaw State hits and one Upstate error. She struck out seven in the complete game win. Kennesaw State starter Logan Viers took the loss and fell to 2-1 after allowing eight runs on 12 hits.
Game 2 – Upstate 8, Kennesaw State
Robinson set the tone early for Upstate in game two. She led off the game with a solo home run and it would be the first of five for the Spartans in the game. Settlemyre led off the second inning with a solo homer and Kaitlyn Jaeger followed suit two batters later with a solo shot of her own to give the Spartans a 3-0 lead after two.
Upstate basically put the game away with four runs in the third inning, and Settlemyre delivered the big blow. With the bases loaded, she cranked a grand slam off the scoreboard in right field to give the Spartans a commanding 7-0 lead. Robinson made it an 8-0 game in the fourth with a solo homer as both she and Settlemyre finished with two home runs in the game.
Kennesaw State avoided being run-ruled in the fifth when Natalie Rhodes reached on a throwing error and a run scored on the play to cut the Upstate lead to 8-1. Upstate put itself in position again to end the game an inning early when it scored in the sixth to open a 10-1 lead. Schneider singled to lead off the inning, advanced to second on a wild pitch and to third on a ground out. She then scored on a wild pitch as the Spartans went up by eight runs again. Settlemyre made it a 10-1 game with an RBI single.
All of the power numbers in game two overshadowed a tremendous pitching performance by Upstate starter Lexi Shubert. A day after earning the win in the series opener, Shubert was nearly untouchable. Kennesaw State could get nothing going against her. She allowed two hits and one unearned run on the day and improved to 10-3 on the year. She struck out three along the way. Kennesaw State starter Morgan Sikes took the loss after allowing seven runs on seven hits in 2 1/3 innings of work and fell to 4-5 on the year.
Settlemyre led Upstate at the plate, finishing with three hits, six RBIs and two runs. Robinson, Landers, Schneider and Jaeger each had two hits to lead Upstate at the plate in the game, Robinson drove in a pair of runs and scored twice.