MARS HILL, N.C. --- Mars Hill erupted for six runs in the eighth inning and held off a furious Tusculum rally in the ninth as the Lions defeated the Pioneers 9-7 Sunday afternoon in South Atlantic Conference baseball action.
Mars Hill (9-10, 1-2 SAC) salvages the weekend finale as Tusculum (9-8, 3-3 SAC) claims the SAC series, 2-1.
After Tusculum tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the eighth, the Lions plated six runs in the bottom of the frame on just two hits and a pair of Tusculum errors. MHU's Brett Brubaker was intentionally walked and teammate Matt Honeycutt drew a free pass to load the bases.
TC reliever McKenly Berry was replaced on the mound by Christian Raasch, who was greeted by Christian Stampler with a two-run double to right field to put the Lions back on top at 5-3. Following an intentional walk to Travis Owens to load the bases to set up an out at any base, the Pioneers committed two errors on Gray McCurry's ground ball which allowed three runs to score to make it an 8-3 ball game. Lance Edwards added a RBI single to put the Lions ahead 9-3. Andrew Willis relieved Raasch and got the final two outs of the inning on a pickoff and a foul out.
In the top of the ninth inning the Pioneers mounted a two-out rally as Zack Finchum reached on a fielder's choice and moved to second on Edison Cabrera's base hit. Jeremy Glore singled home Finchum for TC's fourth run of the game. Colby Skeen blasted a three-run homer to center field to trim the deficit to 9-7.
The Lions went to the bullpen to bring in Jared Mathewson, who got a fly out to end the game.
Mars Hill jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Brubaker's two-out homer in the first inning. Tusculum tied the game with a run in the fourth and took the lead in the fifth on a Jeremy Glore RBI single. MHU regained the lead again in the sixth thanks to a pair of walks which later scored on Honeycutt's two-out double as the Lions led 3-2.
Honeycutt finished the game going 3-for-3, while McCurry and Edwards added two hits apiece.
MHU reliever Tom Mastrodonato picked up the win as he went 3.2 innings, allowed six hits, five runs and struck out four. Mathewson secured his second save of 2017.
Berry (1-1) suffered the loss for the Pioneers as he went 1.2 innings, allowed two hits, three runs, three walks and one strikeout.
Tusculum returns to action on Tuesday when they host Trevecca Nazarene for a 2 p.m. contest.