By: STEVEN WRIGHT – Sports Editor
A 10-run sixth inning helped propel the University of Dayton baseball team to its first opening day victory since 2005.
Competing in the Spartanburg Classic in Spartanburg, S.C., Dayton took down tournament host Wofford University 14-5 Saturday, Feb. 15, at Russell C. King Field.
UD trailed 3-2 into the sixth after chasing Wofford sophomore starting right handed pitcher Matthew Milburn in the fifth.
Starting against Wofford senior right handed pitcher Jesse Morris, UD faced four different pitchers in the sixth while sending 14 hitters to the plate to blow the game open.
Up 5-3 with two outs and the bases loaded, sophomore designated hitter Aaron Huesman pulled a grand slam to left off Wofford sophomore right handed pitcher Will Stillman. All of the runs were unearned.
The next two hitters reached base to start a new rally, and following a balk to advance the runners to second and third, senior left fielder Ryan Berry hit a two-RBI single to center field to score both.
Fifth-year catcher Kuris Duggan had a pair of RBI hits in the inning to begin and end the scoring for Dayton during the frame.
Huesman went 3 for 6 with seven RBIs, including a two-run home run in the seventh inning to cap the scoring for Dayton.
Redshirt junior right hander Noah Buettgen allowed three runs in six innings. He walked only one batter while striking out five.
Dayton had last won its first game of the season Feb. 12, 2005, also at Wofford in a 13-8 decision.
USC Upstate 13, Dayton 2
Dayton’s numerous errors in the field and station-to-station hitting for the University of South Carolina, Upstate helped break open a close game late Sunday, Feb. 16.
A 13-2 win for USC Upstate was its first win of the season, handing Dayton its first loss.
Tied at two in the sixth, an error by junior first baseman A.J. Ryan set the stage for a big inning. Following two singles to load the bases, USC Upstate freshman first baseman Zach Krider made it three in a row with a hit to right, scoring two. Following a fourth straight base hit to reload the bases, USC Upstate freshman catcher Drew Fisher hit a sacrifice fly to left to score one.
After fifth-year starting right handed pitcher Joe Wahl was taken out, sophomore left handed pitcher Jack Rose could not get the final out of the inning as Upstate scored twice more.
Up 9-2, USC Upstate junior second baseman Erik Samples hit a grand slam in the eighth off freshman right handed pitcher Brad Burkhart to end the game’s scoring.
Dayton 4, Ball State 3
Another sixth inning rally Monday, Feb. 17, defined Dayton’s stay in Spartanburg.
A 6-4-3 double play in the ninth inning let them come away with a winning weekend, as UD defeated Ball State University 4-3 in its final game of the Spartanburg Classic.
With only one hit for UD through the first five innings against BSU senior starting left handed pitcher Clay Manering and trailing 2-0, senior third baseman Robby Sunderman laid down a bunt single, advancing redshirt junior second baseman Sergio Plasencia to second. Redshirt junior centerfielder Alex Harris then hit a RBI single to left to get Dayton on the board.
Huesman continued his strong weekend by giving UD the lead on a two-RBI double, scoring Sunderman and Harris. Ryan then followed it up with his own RBI double to right center, knocking home the winning run.
Ball State junior Brandson Estep homered to lead off the eighth inning, but fifth-year right handed pitcher Bryce Lahrman came on for the two-inning save, his first of the season. BSU got runners on first and second in the ninth, but Lahrman induced Estep into the ground ball double play to short to end the game.
Sophomore starting right handed pitcher Charlie Dant struck out four and walked none in seven-plus innings.