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Baseball loses opening Peach Belt series

By Brian Beck
Assistant Sports Editor

The visiting USC Spartans took the first Peach Belt series from the Braves, two games to one, in baseball action on Feb. 17 and 18 at Sammy Cox field.

Game One            

The Spartans came out of the gate strong, batting around the order and scoring six runs in the second inning. 

Andrew Runion was the first to score for the Spartans after a passed ball. After that, Kyle Bowley, Casey Rivers, Kory Morian, Jake Rollins and John Caddell would cross the plate for the Spartans.            

The Braves would get something going in the fourth, though, as Jeff Adams would cross the plate off of an Adam Hamrick single up the right side. 

Adams’ double extended his hitting streak to eight games.             

The run would be the only one for the Braves, however, as the Spartans would score two more of their own in the top of the ninth to win game one of the series 8-1.

Scott Eckard (3-0) would earn the win for the Spartans after pitching the complete game, striking out seven and walking two while only giving up one earned run.             

Jordan Carter (2-1) would take the loss for the Braves by giving up six earned runs and walking three batters in 1.2 innings of work.

Game Two

Game two of the double-header started fast, with the Spartans leading off the game by scoring a run in the first on a Bret Hansen RBI single.             

In the bottom half of the inning, however, the Braves would answer back as Jason Morales hit a homerun to left field, knocking Kevin Dietrich in and making the score 2-1 in favor of the Braves.

The Spartans would come up in the second and score four more runs of their own and add one more in the third to take the score to 6-2 Spartans.             

The Braves would score their last two runs of the game in the bottom of the third off of an RBI double from Dietrich and an RBI sac fly from Morales. 

The Spartans would go on to score four more, making the final score 10-4 Spartans.            

Thomas Campbell (2-0) would earn the win for the Spartans, giving up four runs while striking out five in six innings of work.                     
Justin Yow (2-1) took the loss for the Braves after giving up seven runs (six earned) and walking five in three innings of work.

Game Three

The final game of the series took place on Feb. 18 and started slower than the first two. No runs were scored until the bottom of the third inning after a Chris Beck double and a Derek Funk single to drive him home.            

The Spartans would capitalize on two Braves errors over the next three innings, however, and score two runs in the top of innings four, five and six while the Braves put only one run across in the bottom of the fifth after a Jay Bowman double and an RBI single from Morales.

Comeback

In the top of the sixth, the Braves would bring in Jacob Allen to relieve Dave Cockroft.             

After two runs crossed the plate, Allen held the Spartans scoreless, giving the Braves a chance to get back into the game.                                    
Capitalizing on some key hits and a few Spartans errors, the Braves were able to put Alex Keith and Funk across the plate in the seventh and, on a two-out rally in the eighth, Beck and George Hines came across on a Dietrich single up the middle to tie the game 6-6.

Extra Innings

After a scoreless ninth, the game went into extra innings.             

With two outs in the bottom of the tenth inning, Funk earned a walk and was doubled over to third by Dietrich. 

Morales ended up scoring the game-winning RBI after smashing a single down the right field line to bring Funk home.            

Allen (3-0) earned a team-leading third win for the Braves, giving up no earned runs and only three hits while striking out three. 

Bradley Blanks (1-1) took the loss for the Spartans, giving up two runs and four hits while striking out four in 2.2 innings of work.

Team Records

The Braves finished their season-opening 11-game homestand with a 9-2 record (1-2 conference).  The Spartans improved their record to 8-3 on the weekend (2-1 conference).

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Updated: Thursday, March 15, 2007
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