Baseball drops second straight at USC Upstate, 4-2
Senior Jonathan Murphy
Senior Jonathan Murphy
One bad play doomed the JU baseball team in a 4-2 loss at USC Upstate Saturday in A-Sun action at Harley Park.

The Dolphins (14-27, 4-10) got the first two outs of the third inning, but JU starter and eventual losing pitcher Alex McRae allowed three straight walks to load the bases. The Spartans (28-12, 12-5) got an unconventional grand slam in the next at-bat after JU committed two throwing errors to score all four runs.

McRae (3-5) allowed only a hit and struck out seven batters in 7.1 innings for the hard luck loss. Senior Sean Green got the final two outs of the eighth inning after a weather delay to limit the Spartans to the lone hit.

“The one bad inning continues to hurt us,” JU head coach Terry Alexander said. “All mistakes will hurt you eventually and it did for us in the third inning. Alex pitched a great game for us. We just couldn’t get over the hurdle of that one inning.”

The Dolphins stranded nine runners on the day after recording eight hits. Junior Jake Huxtable went 3-for-4 with two runs to pace JU. Senior Jonathan Murphy had two hits and freshman Garrett Ruckel scored Huxtable both times.

Scott DeCecco (5-1) allowed two runs on eight hits and five strikeouts in 6.1 innings to get the win. Chad Sobotka pitched a scoreless ninth to secure his 10th save of the season. Jordan Stampler had USC Upstate’s lone hit in the fifth inning.

JU earned a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a Ruckel sacrifice fly to score Huxtable.

McRae retied the first eight batters in order before walking the bases loaded in the third inning for the four unearned runs. He retired 13 of the next 15 Spartan hitters to keep the Dolphins in the contest. Huxtable doubled to start the fourth inning for the Dolphins. Two batters later, Ruckel scored Huxtable with a double to left field to cut the deficit in half.

Huxtable and sophomore Chris Anderson each had singles to lead off the sixth inning. A sacrifice bunt advanced both runners, but DeCecco retired the next two hitters to end the threat.

In the ninth inning, junior Ethan Loosen walked to start the JU’s frame. Loosen later moved to second on pass ball, while Murphy walked with two outs. Sobotka struck out the next JU hitter to secure the win.

The Dolphins will wrap the series with the Spartans tomorrow at 1 p.m.