Brody Greer went 3-for-3 with two runs scored for the Spartans (27-12, 11-5 A-Sun), including the game-winning score in the ninth on a hit by Gaither Bumgardner.
Junior Adam Brett Walker II paced the Dolphins (14-26, 4-9) on the night by going 4-for-4 with two doubles and a home run.
“This was a tough loss to start the series,” JU head coach Terry Alexander said. “They got the big hits when they needed them. I was pleased with our effort in the contest and we will look to bounce back tomorrow.”
Ben Augenstein (2-1) struck out three batters in 1.2 scoreless innings to get the victory. David Roseboom allowed a run on six hits and eight strikeouts in seven innings for the no-decision.
Sophomore Jimmy Appleby (2-1) took the loss after allowing a run on two hits in 1.2 innings. Sophomore Chris Anderson surrendered two runs on seven hits and six strikeouts in seven innings for JU.
Trailing 2-1 in the eighth inning, Walker II opened with a double for the Dolphins. He scored on the next play from a Spartans throwing error on a junior Dan Gulbransen single.
Junior Ethan Loosen walked to start the ninth inning. After a strike out, he stole second. Augenstein stranded Loosen with a strikeout and a ground out to quash the JU threat.
Appleby began the USC Upstate ninth inning with a pop out, but issued a walk to Greer. Jordan Stampler followed with a bunt to advance Greer to second base. Stampler scored Greer with a soft fly ball to center field for the win.
The Dolphins earned a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a Walker II home run to right field. Greer tied the contest in the fifth inning with a double before homering two innings later for the 2-1 Spartans advantage.
The teams will play game two of the series tomorrow at 1 p.m.