GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum baseball team rallied from a pair of early deficits to sweep a South Atlantic Conference doubleheader over ninth-ranked Wingate Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Park.
The Pioneers (10-7, 4-1 SAC) overcame a 5-0 deficit in the opener scoring in each of the last five innings in a 9-7 victory. In the night cap, Tusculum erupted for seven runs in the fourth inning to post a 7-2 win over the Bulldogs (14-4, 3-2 SAC).
Jake Wapinsky led the Pioneers at the plate as he went 3-for-4 on the day which included four walks, two RBI and scored four runs in the twin-bill sweep.
Game 1: Tusculum 9, No. 9 Wingate 7
All nine starters finished with a hit, including eight with two hits apiece as the Pioneers rallied to a 9-7 win in the series opener.
The two teams combined for 32 hits in the game as the Pioneers finished with 17 hits, while Wingate tallied 15. The Pioneers left a dozen runners on base but the defense turned three inning-ending double plays. In the contest, Tusculum got the lead-off batter aboard in six of its eight at-bats with all six coming into score.
Wingate jumped out to a 5-0 lead scoring three runs in the first inning and added two more in the second. The Bulldogs sent eight batters to the plate in the opening frame as Bradley Brown belted a two-run single and Micah Goodwin followed with a run-scoring single as Wingate led 3-0. In the second inning, Justin Guy led off with a single and Ty Andrus belted his second home run of the year, a line shot over the left field wall to up the Wingate led to 5-0.
The Pioneers chipped away at the deficit, scoring a run in the second, another in the fourth and tied the game at 5-5 with three runs in the bottom of the fifth. In the bottom of the second, Garrett Dupuis doubled down the left field line and later scored on Trey Hinton's RBI single. In the fourth, Wapinsky led off with a walk, moved to second on a Hinton bunt and later scored on a RBI hit from Zack Finchum to trim the Wingate lead to 5-2.
Tusculum tied it in the fifth as Nate Montgomery led off with a hit and Edison Cabrera legged out a bunt single. Both runners moved up a base on a passed ball and Montgomery scored on a ground out by Dupuis. Wapkinsy walked to put runners on the corners and Hinton posted his fifth straight hit to start the season and drive in Cabrera from third. WU reliever Alex Rodriguez took over on the mound for starter Hunter Morgan to face Finchum. Finchum tied the game with his second hit in as many innings to bring home Wapinksy with the tying run.
In the top of the sixth inning, the Bulldogs got the first two aboard as Goodwin and Zach Little both singled. But TC starter struck out Brett Brandon and got Guy to hit into a double play to keep the game tied at 5-5.
Tusculum took its first lead of the day in the bottom of the sixth as Colby Skeen led off with a walk and moved to second on a bunt. Two wild pitches would bring him into score to give the Pioneers a 6-5 advantage.
Wingate tied the game with a run in the seventh and were looking for more. Hall got a ground out to start the inning, but McCann Mellett lined a triple down the right field line. Tyler Schneider tied the game at 6-6 with his RBI single. Chase McAlliser relieved Hall on the mound as the Bulldogs welcomed him with a single from Tanner Forry and Brown drew a walk to load the bases with one out. But McAllister ended the threat as with a double-play ball to Goodwin as the score remained deadlocked.
Tusculum broke the tie in the bottom of the seventh as Wapkinsy led off with an infield single, moved to second on Hinton's second bunt of the game. Wapkinsky moved to third on a Finchum ground out setting the table for Daulton Martin as he lined a single up the middle to drive in Wapinsky with the go-ahead run.
But the Bulldogs answered again in the eighth as Little got aboard on an error to start the inning. He moved to second on a bunt and pinch-hitter Andrew Llewellyn lined a RBI single to left and moved to second base on the throw to the plate. He moved to third on Andrus' infield hit moving the go-ahead run to third. Mitch McCain took over McAllister on the mound and during Mellett's at bat, Andrus was picked off first base trying to steal as pinch-runner Trent Wynn remained at third base. McCain closed out the inning with a strikeout to keep the score tied at 7-7.
In the bottom of the eighth, Montgomery led off with a single and moved to second on Cabrera's bunt. Jarel McDade singled in Montgomery with the go-ahead score and later inning the inning, Wapkinsky laid down a bunt single as the play at the plate was not in time to get McDade for the insurance run.
In the ninth inning, McCain worked around a two-out single and posted a strikeout to end the game. McCain (2-0) pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings where he allowed one hit, zero walks and struck out three. Turgeon suffered the loss to fall to 1-1 on the year.
Finchum, Martin, Montgomery, Cabrera, McDade, Wapinsky and Hinton all finished with two hits, while Finchum and Hinton were the lone players to have multiple RBI in the opener.
Andrus and Schneider accounted for three-hit performances, while Brown and Goodwin both had a pair of hits.
Game 2: Tusculum 7, No. 9 Wingate 2
In the second game, the Pioneers sent 12 batters to the plate in a seven-run, fourth inning as TC used five hits, two walks and a pair of Wingate errors as Tusculum prevailed 7-2.
Schneider put the Bulldogs on the board with his two-out solo home run in the first inning for his second round-tripper of the season.
Wingate starter Hunter Hamilton kept the Pioneers scoreless through the first three innings as he worked around one hit each in the first and second frames and a lead-off walk in the third. Sanders was also catching his steam as he retired 10 of the next 12 batters.
Skeen led off the fourth inning with a walk. After a fly out, Hamilton got Cabrera to ground out to what was looking to be an inning-ending double play, but a fielding error on the play put runners at first and second. A passed ball moved the runners up a base and a passed ball brought home Skeen with the tying run. McDade walked to runners at first and third and Dupuis lined a single to left to bring home the go-ahead run. Wapinsky tallied his third RBI single of the day to make it 3-1. Hinton grounded out to the pitcher for the second out and moving the runners to second and third. A second costly error on Finchum's ground ball allowed two more runs to score and Martin followed with his team-leading seventh double of the year to drive in Finchum. Pinch-hitter Bradley Evans drove in the seventh run of the frame with his smash-hop single to third base as the Pioneers led 7-1.
In the top of the fifth, Wingate was paced to have a huge inning as Zach Little and Reece Daniel led off with back-to-back single and Guy was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Pedro Rodriguez took over for Sanders and got Andrus to fly out to drive in Little from third base. But Rodriguez limited the damage as he posted back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning.
The Wingate bullpen quartet of Alon Smith, Danny Dunning, Riley Edwards and Cameron Smetak kept the Pioneers off the board in their final two at-bats.
Meanwhile, Rodriguez worked out of a two-on, no-out jam in the sixth as he got a strikeout and a double play to end the frame. He would strikeout out the side in the seventh to seal his second save of the year.
Sanders (2-1) went four innings, allowed two runs on four hits, one walk and five strikeouts. Rodriguez pitched three shutout innings, allowing one hit, zero walks and six strikeouts.
The two teams will wrap-up the three-game weekend set with Sunday's series finale at 1 p.m.