YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. --- A five-run first inning propelled Young Harris College to a 7-3 victory over Tusculum University in non-conference baseball action Wednesday afternoon at Zell B. Miller Field.
Young Harris' bullpen was called upon to record all 27 outs, and six pitchers held Tusculum to two runs on six hits while striking out 10. The Pioneer bullpen also went to work early, with five relievers giving up one earned run and striking out seven in 7 2/3 innings of work.
Dahlton Cash went 3-for-5 with two doubles, an RBI and a run scored for the Mountain Lions (4-4), who outhit the Pioneers (1-7) by a 12-6 margin. McLain Harris escaped a ninth-inning jam to earn the save for Young Harris, as Tusculum loaded the bases with nobody out before a pair of strikeouts and a line out ended the game.
Jaden Steagall went 2-for-4 with a run scored and Daulton Martin reached safely four times in five plate appearances with a double and three walks for the Pioneers. Tusculum left 13 runners on base while Young Harris stranded 11 as both teams benefitted from five walks.
Neither starter made it out of the first inning, as Young Harris' Brett Jackson walked two batters and hit a third before being pulled in favor of Jake Tomelevage, who gave up a run-scoring groundout to Jarel McDade which gave Tusculum a 1-0 lead. The Mountain Lions roared back with five runs in its half of the first inning, driving Pioneer starter Christian Cuba from the mound after allowing three walks and two hits and hitting a batter. Five different players drove in runs in the inning for Young Harris, while Lance Worley went 2-for-2 with a run scored and an RBI.
Tusculum threatened in the top of the third, loading the bases on a single by Steagall, a dropped fly ball and a hit batter. However, Young Harris reliever Drew Wilson was able to retire the side on a ground ball to keep the Mountain Lions' lead at 5-1.
The Pioneers cut the margin to 5-2 in the fifth as Martin doubled with one out and scored on a single by Nate Montgomery. Young Harris got the run back in the bottom of the inning on a two-out RBI single by Tucker Greer to push the Mountain Lions ahead 6-2.
Tusculum pulled within 6-3 in the eighth as Bryson Ford led off with a walk and moved to third on a double by Zack Finchum. After a pair of strikeouts, Kaleb Bell reached on a fielders choice as Ford crossed the plate with the Pioneers' third run. For the third time in the game, the Mountain Lions answered the Pioneers' run as an error set up a two-out RBI single by Bailey Campbell which pushed the Young Harris lead to 7-3 heading to the ninth.
In the ninth, Steagall led off with a single and Martin drew a walk, which brought in Harris from the Mountain Lions' bullpen. An error loaded the bases with nobody out, but Harris struck out the next two batters and got the third out on a liner to left to nail down the save.
Tomelevage (1-0) was credited with the win for Young Harris after pitching two hitless innings with one strikeout. Wilson and Trey Parr also tossed two scoreless innings for the Mountain Lions, with Parr fanning three.
The Tusculum bullpen also turned in a credible performance, led by Alec Lay who came on for Cuba in the first and struck out four in 2 2/3 scoreless innings. Harbor Jefferson added two scoreless innings and struck out a pair, while Andrew Willis also tossed a scoreless frame.
Campbell finished 2-for-4 with two runs batted in for Young Harris, Worley was 2-for-5 and Brett Hawkins was 2-for-2 with a walk.
Tusculum will play its home opener on Friday as Notre Dame (Ohio) opens a four-game series at Pioneer Park, beginning at 4 p.m.