Baseball sweeps USC Upstate with 10-9 rally win in series finale
Junior Chris Kaminski
Junior Chris Kaminski
Things didn’t go quite so easily in the finale but the Dolphins scratched a run in the eighth to tie things up and plated a run in the ninth while solid pitching by junior Chris Kaminski led the JU baseball team to a 10-9 win over USC Upstate, Saturday evening in game two of a doubleheader at Harley Park.

JU (16-13, 8-4) earned its first A-Sun road sweep since April 9-11 at ETSU last season after scoring at least 10 runs for the third straight day while pounding out 14 hits.

Upstate (9-22, 1-11) scored its most runs since March 13 against Florida Gulf Coast but was once again plagued by leaving a game-high nine runners on base.

“I’m pleased with how we played this weekend,” said JU head coach Terry Alexander. “We came in here needed to take this series and we accomplished that. Now that we are on a little bit of a roll, hopefully we can snowball this into something big and get our season turned around.”

With the score tied at 9-9 in the ninth, freshman designated hitter hit a lined shot off the hand of pitcher Ryan Fern to get on base. After Fern left due to injury, junior right fielder Esterlin Perozo hit the first pitch he saw from reliever Jordan Rusk through the left side and each runner continued to second and third on the play. In the next at-bat, junior catcher Alex Swenson hit a chopper at short to score the eventually winning run.

Junior Chris Kaminski (3-3) got the win after hurling two innings of shutout relief to keep the Dolphins within striking distance. Senior Kyle Kriech got the no-decision after allowing eight runs on 11 hits with three walks in five innings of work.

Ryan Fern (1-1) was tagged with the loss after allowing two runs on three hits with a walk and two strikeouts in three innings. Matt Branham also got a no-decision after allowing six runs (five earned) on eight hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in five innings.

Sophomore left fielder Jonathan Murphy continued his career day by finishing 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI. Junior shortstop Jamaal Hawkins also finished 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI. Senior first baseman Alex Martinez went 2-for-5 with a home run and two RBI while Perozo also added two hits.

Joe Barnes led the Spartans offense by going 3-for-5 with double and two RBI.

JU took a 1-0 lead in the first when senior second baseman Chuck Opachich scored from third on a fielding error by shortstop Brody Greer.

Opachich led off the contest with a single to right and then advanced to third on a single up the middle by Martinez. With two outs, freshman center fielder Dan Gulbransen hit a grounder to short which was bobbled by Greer to allow the run to score.

The Dolphins increased the lead to 4-0 in the second when Opachich hit an RBI grounder and Murphy connected on a two-run homer.

Perozo drew a walk to lead off the inning and then advanced to third on a single to right center by Swenson. With one out, Opachich hit a grounder to first to plate Perozo before Murphy followed with a dive over the wall in center to clear the bases.

The Spartans cut the deficit to 4-3 in the bottom of the second when Trey Richardson hit an RBI single to left and Andre Harris connected on a three-run homer to right field.

Upstate evened the contest, 4-4, in the bottom of the fourth when Barnes hit an RBI single through the left side.

JU retook the lead, 6-4, in the fifth when Martinez hit a two-run homer to left center field.

Hawkins drew a walk to lead off the inning before Martinez sent him home with a lined shot over the wall.

The Spartans threatened in the bottom of the fifth with the bases loaded and only one out but Kriech got Richardson to hit a slow chop back to the mound to induce a double play to the plate to end the inning.

The Dolphins made it 8-4 in the sixth when Murphy hit a sacrifice fly and Hawkins tallied an RBI double.

Senior third baseman Derek Abis led off the inning with a double to right center and then moved to second on a wild pitch. After a walk to Opachich, Murphy hit a fly to right to plate Abis. After Opachich stole second, Hawkins laced a double to right center to score another run.

The Spartans evened the contest once again, 8-8, in the bottom of the sixth when Barnes and Greer each hit an RBI double, Jimmy Tanner hit a sacrifice fly to right and Jeff Medley hit an RBI single to left.

Upstate took a 9-8 lead in the bottom of the seventh when Richardson led off the inning with a triple to right center and later scored on a wild pitch.

The Dolphins evened things up in the top of the eighth when Hawkins drove in a run with a fielder’s choice to third.

With one out, Opachich drew a walk and then advanced to third on a single through the right side by Murphy. In the next at-bat, Hawkins hit a grounder to third to score Opachich from third.

The Dolphins will next travel to Florida on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. The contest can be heard live on 1010XL with Barry Milligan calling all of the action or can be followed on Live Stats or GameTracker by logging onto