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High-powered Spartan offense takes two from Lancers

Coming into the weekend, USC Upstate boasted the second-highest scoring offense in the Big South. In a doubleheader on Friday, April 23, the balanced group led the way past Longwood 10-3 and 13-5.

In the first game, 10 players had a hit for the Spartans (26-9, 17-9 Big South) while five players posted multi-hit games in the nightcap. The Spartans pieced together 26 hits on the day.  They did the most damage in the middle innings. Between the fourth, fifth and six innings, Upstate totaled 14 runs in the two games.

Leadoff man Jake Hennessy totaled four hits on the day with two in each game. Noah Rabon added two in the first game, while Robby McGaha and Julian Rip each led the way with three hits apiece in game two.

Meanwhile, the Upstate pitching staff slowed down Longwood, with ace Jordan Marks leading the way in the first game with an eight-inning effort. Reliever Sean Hupp keyed a bullpen effort that slowed down Longwood’s hot start in game two.

For the Lancer offense, freshmen led the way in game one, with Michael Dolberry notching his second multi-hit game of the season while Hayden Harris added a two-hit game of his own. In game two, Jack Schnell and Andrew Gorham each tallied two hits.

Game One: USC Upstate 10, Longwood 3

A balanced Upstate attack at the plate led the way in the first game, with the Spartans putting together 12 hits spread across 10 players. While the Spartans only had one extra-base hit in the game, the 11 singles came in timely spots to slowly pull away from Longwood in the 10-3 win.

On the mound, Marks, who leads the conference in strikeouts, innings pitched and ERA, struck out 10 batters for the third time this season while going eight innings to earn his seventh win of the year.

The Lancers hung around early by limiting the damage and became only the third team this season to score multiple runs on Marks, but USC Upstate scored in four straight innings from the fourth to the seventh innings to slowly pull away.

The top three batters in the order combined to score six runs while reaching base 10 times for Upstate, with Rabon and Hennessy each having two hits apiece.

Dolberry, a freshman outfielder, led Longwood with a 2-3 outing, posting a double, an RBI and also scoring a run while Harris, a freshman second baseman, went 2-4 at the plate in the leadoff spot.

Upstate struck first on a two-run single by Rabon in the first inning, but Longwood starter Dominick D’Ercole settled down, and he helped the Lancer stick around for the next few innings by keeping an Upstate team that came in second in the Big South in runs off the board for the second and third innings. He went five innings for a second straight start for the Lancers.

Marks kept the Lancer offense from getting on track early though, and he retired the first eight he faced before Dolberry hit a two-out single in the third inning.

Hennessy singled home a pair of runs in the fourth, and the Spartans scored in each inning through the seventh.

Meanwhile, Longwood got on the board in the sixth when Dolberry jumpstarted a one-out rally with a double. He later scored when Eliot Dix hit a grounder to third that was mishandled. Jack Schnell hit a sacrifice fly one batter later that cut the Upstate lead to 5-2, but Marks closed the threat and pitched through the eighth.

D’Ercole (2-3) took the loss for Longwood after giving up five runs in 5.0 innings.

Game Two: USC Upstate 13, Longwood 5

In game two, Upstate’s offense again powered through the middle innings, this time plating eight runs between the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to break open a tie game. McGaha and Rip led the way three hits apiece, with McGaha tying a career high with both hits and three RBI.

That helped offset a Longwood offense that knocked in four runs in the first three innings before Hupp came on in relief. Hupp tossed a season-best 5.2 innings of one-run ball while fanning eight to earn his third win of the season.

For the Lancers, Andrew Gorham had his second multi-hit game of the season while being responsible for three of the team’s four runs. He scored twice and drove in one more. Schnell added a two-hit day after going 2-5 at the plate.

After Upstate took the lead with a two-run first, Longwood responded. Hunter Gilliam walked and stole second, and Gorham singled him home. Michael Peterson then singled home Gorham to even the score.

With the Spartans answering back in their half of the second with two more runs, the Lancers bounced right back. Gilliam ripped a triple, his team-best fourth of the season, that scored both Schnell and Eliot Dix to tie the game at four.

Upstate broke away in the fourth though by keying on an error to plate three. They never trailed after that.

Andrew Melnyk (0-3) took the loss for Longwood. He gave up seven runs, five earned, on 10 hits in 3.2 innings.

The two sides square off for the series finale on Saturday afternoon, with the first pitch set for 2 p.m. at Harley Park.