After dropping the first game in extra innings, the USC Upstate softball team rebounded with a solid win in the second game as the Spartans split a non-conference doubleheader at Furman Monday afternoon at Pepsi Stadium. Furman won the first game, 4-3, in eight innings, while Upstate claimed a 6-3 victory in game two.
Upstate starter Amanda Storch struck out a career-high nine batters en route to picking up the win in game two for the Spartans. Upstate stands 13-3 on the year after Monday’s split. The Spartans will host North Carolina Tuesday afternoon in a single game starting at 4 p.m. at Cyrill Stadium. Furman is 12-5 on the year.
The 4-3 loss to Furman in the first game of the doubleheader snapped an 11-game winning streak in the series for Upstate. The Spartans entered the game having won 11-straight and 16 of the last 17. Upstate has now won 17 of the last 19 against the Paladins.
Game 1 – Furman 4, Upstate 3 (8 innings)
After Upstate stranded a runner on third in the top of the first inning, Furman opened the scoring in the game in the bottom of the first when Sierra Bishop hit a two-run home run to left.
Upstate starter Lexi Shubert pitched out of a jam in the second when a leadoff double and walk put runners on first and second with no outs. However, Shubert hunkered down and retired the next three batters to keep the score at 2-0.
Upstate got on the board in the top of the third when Kaitlyn Jaeger knocked a solo home run to right to get the Spartans within a run, 2-1. It was third homer of the year for the second baseman. Upstate looked to get even more in the fourth, putting runners on first and second with one out. However, Furman got out of the inning with a double play.
Upstate tied it up in the top of the sixth and then got out of a jam in the bottom of the frame. Shellie Robinson belted a towering solo home run to left center to tie the game at 2-2. It was her sixth homer of the year. Furman loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the inning. Just as she did in the second inning, Shubert stood tough. She induced a pop up to second and a grounder and force out at third to end the threat and keep the score tied.
Neither team cracked the scoreboard in the seventh as the game went into extra innings. With the international tiebreaker rules in place, pinch runner Ryan Rector started the eighth at second. The Spartans loaded the bases with one out and Dana Landers drove in a run on a sacrifice fly to center to give the Spartans their first lead of the game at 3-2.
Furman tied the game in the bottom of the eighth when Taylor Jenkins doubled with runners on the corners to make it a 3-3 game. The play also resulted in the Paladins putting runners on second and third with one out. Furman won the game when Andrea Abbatiello lifted a pop fly to deep shortstop. Landers ranged back but couldn’t make the catch on the run and Elise Smith scored from third with the game-winning run.
Robinson led Upstate at the plate, finishing with two hits. Shubert went the distance in the circle and took the loss to fall to 7-2. She allowed four runs, three earned, on nine hits. She struck out five. Lindsey Bert also tossed a complete game for Furman and improved to 8-2 on the year after allowing three runs on four hits with five strikeouts.
Game 2 – Upstate 6, Furman 3
Looking to get off to a quick start following the loss in the first game, Upstate did just that. Robinson led of the game with a single up the middle and advanced to third on a ground out and throwing error. She then scored on Cheyenne Griffin’s single to right to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead.
Upstate added to its lead with two runs in the second, and it did so with two outs. Jaeger started things off with a double to right to score Aly Schneider all the way from first to give the Spartans a 2-0 advantage. Robinson followed with a run-scoring double to left center as Upstate took a three-run lead.
After scoreless innings in the third and fourth, Upstate extended its lead in the fifth inning when Kendall Settlemyre doubled to drive in Griffin to make it a 4-0 Spartan lead. The Spartans made it a 6-0 game in the sixth when Landers belted a two-run homer. It was her second home run of the season.
Upstate starter Amanda Storch kept Furman off balance throughout the game. She tossed five scoreless innings before the Paladins were able to put a run across in the sixth. With runners on the corners and two outs, Brittany Houston singled up the middle to get the Paladins within 6-1.
Storch ran into trouble in the bottom of the seventh. Furman loaded the bases with two outs when a controversial play allowed the Paladins to score two. Jenkins sent a slow roller to the right side where Griffin picked up the ball and sprinted toward the bad. She dove to try to record the final out of the game, but Jenkins was ruled safe and two runs crossed the plate in the confusion as the Paladins cut into the Upstate lead, 6-3.
After a lengthy discussion between Upstate head coach Chris Hawkins and the umpire crew, Storch got a pop up to end the game as the Spartans prevailed with the 6-3 win.
Upstate scored six runs on 10 hits and one Furman error to take the win in game two. Robinson, Griffin and Settlemyre each finished the game with two hits, while five different Spartans had at least one RBI. Robinson finished the day with four hits to lead the Spartans.
Storch was solid throughout and improved to 4-1 on the year with the complete game win. She allowed three runs on eight hits. She struck out a career-high nine batters. Furman starter Alex Sappington fell to 2-3 after allowing three runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings of work.