GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum University baseball team overcame early deficits in each game as the Pioneers swept a doubleheader over Notre Dame College (Ohio) Saturday at Pioneer Park.
Tusculum used a four-run, fourth inning as the Pioneers won the opener 5-4. In the second game, Seth DeHaven drove in a pair of runs, while pitchers Alec Lay and Andrew Willis limited the Falcons to four hits as Tusculum prevailed 3-1.
Tusculum (5-7) completes the four-game sweep over Notre Dame (0-4) as the Pioneers' home opening weekend was a success.
The Pioneers will be on the road on Tuesday before returning home next weekend to host Goldey-Beacom for a four-game series.
Game 1: Tusculum 5, Notre Dame (Ohio) 4
Notre Dame had a golden opportunity in the first inning as the Falcons loaded the bases with one out. But TU starter Harbor Jefferson got out of the jam with a pair of strikeouts to end the threat.
NDC broke through with a pair of runs in the third inning thanks to RBI singles from Ricky Phillips and Matt Richards as the Falcons led for the first time this weekend, 2-0.
The Pioneers answered in the bottom of the fourth as TU sent 10 batters to the plate, culminating with four runs on five hits as Tusculum led 4-2.
TU reliever Mitch McCain took over in the fifth and retired the first seven batters he would face. Tusculum added an important fifth run in the sixth inning as Bryson Ford hit a two-out single to bring home DeHaven.
McCain got out of a two-on, one out jam in the seventh, but gave up two runs in the eighth as NDC trimmed the deficit to 5-4 and had a chance to take the lead. But TU closer Christian Rosa came up with a strikeout, a caught stealing and a ground out to end the inning to preserve the one-run lead.
In the top of the ninth inning, Notre Dame got tying run on base with no outs. But a foul out and two strikeouts sealed the victory as Rosa pulled off his second save of the year.
McCain picked up the victory as he went three innings, allowed two runs on two hits, two walks and four strikeouts. Cuba pitched two shutout innings as he scattered two hits, one walk and struck out three. Jefferson had six strikeouts while allowing two runs on eight hits and zero walks in the no-decision.
Santoro finished the game with three hits including two doubles, while Nick Farrell and Richards had two hits apiece for the Falcons who out-hit the Pioneers 12-9 in the opener. TU was led by Nate Montgomery's two hits.
Game 2: Tusculum 3, Notre Dame (Ohio) 1
Tusculum recorded its fourth win of the weekend as Lay recorded his first collegiate victory while Willis posted his first save of 2019 in the Pioneers' 3-1 victory over Notre Dame.
Lay, who was making his first career start, pitched four strong innings as he scattered two hits with one unearned run, three walks and five strikeouts. Willis came on in the fifth and blanked the Falcons over the final three innings where he allowed two hits and struck out a pair.
The Falcons scored in the first inning when Lukas Thompson led off with a single, moved to third on a failed pickoff attempt and stole home for an early 1-0 lead.
The Pioneers answered in the third inning when Steagall was hit by a pitch with two outs. He moved to third on Daulton Martin's double to right field. Steagall would score the tying run on a wild pitch by starter Chris Murphy.
TU took the lead in the fourth inning as Trey Hinton led off with a walk and later scored on DeHaven's RBI ground out.
Willis took over on the mound in the fifth as he faced the Falcons team last February when he suffered a season-halting injury when he was hit in the face by a line-drive. Ironically, the first batter he would face would be Ryan Kosmynka, the player who inadvertently hit the liner that fractured Willis' face and sidelined him for most of the 2018 season.
Willis gave up a two-out single in the fifth, but got a strikeout to end the inning. He worked a perfect sixth inning before retiring the first two batters in the seventh. With two outs, Kosmynka came up again and doubled down the right field line to bring the tying run to the plate. But Willis would close out the game with a ground out to complete the sweep.
Notre Dame finished with four hits, while the Pioneers tallied three hits.