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Tusculum baseball splits SAC twinbill with LMU

John Topoleski applies the tag at third base of Timmy Wages of LMU in Saturday's first game (photo by Chris Lenker)
John Topoleski applies the tag at third base of Timmy Wages of LMU in Saturday's first game (photo by Chris Lenker)

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Jeremy Glore went 3-for-4 and scored the eventual winning run in the opener as Tusculum split a South Atlantic Conference baseball doubleheader with Lincoln Memorial Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Park.

The Pioneers rallied from a 2-0 deficit sparked by a three-run seventh inning as Tusculum won the opener 4-3.  LMU starter Dominic Morabito, who suffered the loss in Saturday's first game in relief, bounced back by pitching a seven-inning complete game as the Railsplitters won the night-cap 4-2.

LMU (19-16, 10-5 SAC) wins the weekend series 2-1 as Tusculum (21-10, 13-5 SAC) drops only its second SAC series of the season and slips out of first place in the conference standings.

Game 1: Tusculum 4, Lincoln Memorial 3

The Pioneers amassed 11 hits, while Christian Raasch and McKenly Berry accounted for a pair of stellar pitching performances in Tusculum's 4-3 win in the first game.

Raasch tossed seven strong innings as he scattered six hits, three runs, two walks and posted four strikeouts to improve his record to 2-3 on the season.  Berry pitched the final 1.2 innings and squelched an eighth inning rally to pick up his second save of the week and his third of the year.

LMU jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning as Timmy Wages hit a two-out, two-run double.

TC got the first two runners aboard in the bottom half of the inning as Edison Cabrera and Glore led off with back-to-back singles. But LMU starter Ethan Elliott worked out of the jam with back-to-back strikeouts and a ground out to end the inning.

LMU had a golden opportunity to extend its lead as Railsplitters loaded the bases with one out in the top of the third.  But Raasch rallied and ended the threat with a strikeout and a fly out to end the inning.

Tusculum scored its first run of the game when Nick Lacina led off with his team-leading 10th double of the season.  He moved to third on a bunt by John Topoleski and then scored on a Dante Key base hit.

Topoleski's bunt was one for the record books as it was his 35th sacrifice of his career, which is a new Tusculum record, breaking the previous mark of 34 established by Tripper Crisson from 2012-2013.

Trailing now 2-1, Raasch kept the Pioneers within striking distance as he retired the Railsplitters in order in the fifth and sixth innings.  But Elliott kept pace as he worked around a two-out single in the fifth and a two-out walk in the sixth to maintain the one-run lead.

Tusculum made its move in the seventh inning as Cole Baxley led off with a double and moved to third on a Zack Finchum bunt.  Morabito came on to relieve Elliott and face Cabrera who drew a walk to put runners on the corners.  Glore singled to bring in Baxley with tying run and move Cabrera to third base.  Cabrera scored from there on a wild pitch, but on the play, the LMU catcher inadvertently deflected the ball into the LMU dugout, moving Glore to third base.  Lacina would drive him in later inning the inning with his two-out single as the Pioneers moved ahead 4-2.

In the top of the eighth, Mason Ewers cut the deficit in half with his sixth home run of the season to lead off the frame as LMU trailed 4-3.

Zach Slagle relieved Raasch and got a grounder for the first out of the inning.  But Russell Clarke and Wages hit consecutive singles to but the tying and go-ahead runs aboard.  Berry took over the Slagle, but Eric Kalman reached on a TC error to load the bases.  But Berry ended the inning with a strikeout and a fly out to preserve the lead.

In the top of the ninth, LMU's Seth Hunt reached on a one-out single, but he would be stranded there as Berry got the final two outs of the frame for the Tusculum win.  Berry recorded three strikeouts in his solid pitching effort.

Lacina went 2-for-4, while Key and Daulton Martin also tallied two hits apiece in the victory.

Game 2: Lincoln Memorial 4, Tusculum 2

Saturday's second game proved to be a pitcher's duel between LMU's Dominic Morabito and Tusculum starter Tim Hardy.

Like LMU, Tusculum jumped out to the early 2-0 lead as the Pioneers scored one run each in the first two innings.  Cabrera led off with his ninth double and later scored on a Lacina ground out.  TC added its second run in the next frame as Key led off with a walk, stole second and later scored on a Bradley Evans' RBI single for a two-run Tusculum advantage.

Meanwhile, Hardy retired the first 13 batters he would face, including four strikeouts during that span.

The Railsplitters broke through in the fifth inning with three runs, all scoring with two outs.  Wages was hit by a pitch with one out and later moved to third on Muta Crusoe's two-out double.  Tyler Adams tied the game with his two-run double and Nate Stinson broke the tie with his RBI single to give LMU a 3-2 lead.

After Evans' single in the second, Morabito did not allow a hit for the rest of the game as he retired 16 of the final 17 batters he would face, including 11 in a row to end the game.

Morabito (5-3) went the distance as he scattered three hits, allowed two runs, one walk and posted 11 strikeouts.

Hardy (7-1) suffered his first loss of the season as he allowed four hits, four runs, three earned, no walks and six strikeouts.

The Pioneers return to the diamond on Tuesday as they travel to Young Harris for a 5 p.m. contest at Zell Miller Field.

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