The Stetson Hatters had their normal Sunday routine thrown off kilter early in the rubber game of the series against USC Upstate. The league-leading Spartans roughed up Hatters starter Will Dorsey for five runs in that opening inning and went on to take an 11-6 decision.
For Dorsey (6-4), and the Hatters, it was the first Sunday loss in league play this year. Stetson is now 30-17 overall and 12-9 in A-Sun play. Upstate improved to 32-14 overall and 15-6 in the conference. The Spartans have a two game lead in the A-Sun over second place Belmont and a three-game lead over Stetson and Kennesaw State, who are tied for third.
The Spartans gave junior starter Brandon Lee (7-3) just about all the support he would need before he ever stepped on the mound, even though it looked as if Dorsey would get out of the inning with no damage at all.
Jordan Stampler led off the game with a double, but had only advanced to third after a pair of ground outs. Dorsey then hit Luke Weber and walked Greg Guers to load the bases. With Tyler Cook at the plate, Dorsey thought he had gotten an inning ending strikeout on a 1-2 pitch, but did not get the call. Cook singled up the middle on the next pitch, scoring two.
Brandon Patterson followed with a two-run triple and then scored on a single by Trey Richardson, giving the Spartans a 5-0 lead.
From there, the rest of the game was basically matching runs.
Stetson got a run in the bottom of the first on a sacrifice fly by Mark Jones. Both teams scored twice in the fourth, Upstate on a two-run triple by Liput and Stetson on a ground out by Kurt Schluter to score Mitchel Brennan, who had tripled, and another on a single by Spencer Theisen.
After three scoreless frames, both teams scored again in the eighth inning. Upstate got two runs on a single by Guers and a sacrifice fly. Stetson answered in the bottom of the frame, scoring three times on a single by Robert Crews to plate Tanner Blackman, who had tripled, an Upstate error and a ground out by Jones.
Upstate put the final runs on the board in the ninth, scoring runs on singles by Gaither Bumgardner and Weber.
Overall, Stetson used seven pitchers in the game. Josh Powers and Jake Boyd covered most of the middle innings before Joe Dye, Cameron Griffin, Tucker Donahue and Austin Perez finished out the final outs.
Ben Carhart led the Hatters with 12 hits in the game. Sam Kimmel, Brennan and Theisen had two his each for Stetson. Liput and Richardson led a 16-hit attack for the Spartans with three hits each.
The Hatters will have little down time this week. Stetson will host No. 1 Florida State on Tuesday night at 6:30 and again on Wednesday at 4 p.m. before traveling to Johnson City, Tenn., on Thursday to open a three-game series at East Tennessee State on Friday.