GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Bellarmine baseball team fended off a ninth inning rally and left the tying run at third base in defeating host Tusculum 7-6 Tuesday night at Pioneer Park.
The Knights improve to 16-7 on the season and have won eight of their last 10 games. The Pioneers fall to 16-16 on the year as the Black and Orange has its three-game winning streak snapped.
Bellarmine recorded 15 hits on the evening including Zac Wiley's 3-for-5 performance, while Drew Greenwood, Brady Pfaadt, Griffin Neuer and Jacob Pendred and Bobby Brokamp tallied two hits apiece.
Tusculum tallied 10 hits in the contest with Daulton Martin posting his second straight three-hit performance, while catcher Chase Wullenwebber went 2-for-4 at the plate.
Bellarmine carried a 7-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning as reliever Yancey Pritchett retired the first two batters. But Tusculum mounted a furious rally as Zack Finchum and Edison Cabrera drew back-to-back walks and Trey Hinton came through with a base hit on a 0-2 pitch to trim the deficit to 7-4.
Reining South Atlantic Conference Player of the Week Colby Skeen came on in a late pinch-hitting role and representing the tying run, fell behind in the count 0-2. But on the third pitch of the at-bat, Skeen sent a deep fly ball to right field that just missed going out, hitting halfway up the wall as he coasted into third with a two-run triple as the Pioneers trailed 7-6.
The Knights brought in Neuer from left field to pitch to pinch-hitter John Bennett. Bennett battled his way through the count and got it to 2-2. But on the sixth pitch, Neuer hit the inside corner for strike three to end the game and record his first save of the season.
Bellarmine scored the first run of the game in the second inning thanks to a lead-off error. TC tied the game in the bottom of the frame utilizing a lead-off walk and a pair of BU errors to knot the fray at 1-1.
The Knights broke through with three runs in the top of fourth as Neuer hit a towering blast over the right field wall for his sixth homer of the season. Pendred and Higgins followed with back-to-back singles with one out. After liner was caught for the second out of the inning, Greenwood hit a two-run double to give BU a 5-1 lead.
Bellarmine added another run in the fifth before TC scratched together a run in the bottom of the frame. Martin led off with a double and later score on Nate Montgomery's one-out single. The Pioneers loaded the bases against starter Alex Phillips. Duncan Amrein came on in relief and got the final out of the inning with a strikeout to preserve the 5-2 lead.
BU got the run back in the sixth on a Finerty two-out single and added its seventh run of the game on Zac Wiley's third home run of the season and a 7-2 lead.
The Pioneers got a two-out triple from Martin in the eighth inning to drive in Seth DeHaven to make it a 7-3 ballgame and set the stage for the ninth inning drama.
Amrein picked up the victory in relief as he went 3 1/3 innings, allowed two hits, one run, one walk and posted four strikeouts. TC starter Kent Noe (0-1) suffered the loss.
The two teams had their chances as both combined for 25 runners left on base (BU 13, TC 12).
The Pioneers and Knights will wrap-up the two-game midweek series with a 1 p.m. contest on Wednesday at Pioneer Park.