HICKORY, N.C. --- Bradley Evans went 4-for-5 with three RBI and a home run as Tusculum defeated Lenoir-Rhyne 9-4 Tuesday night in a non-conference baseball match-up at Bears Field.
The Pioneers (24-11) avenge an earlier season loss to the Bears (20-19) as the Black & Orange have won 15 of their last 18 contests.
Tusculum led wire-to-wire in recording 14 hits, while TC pitchers posted 13 strikeouts, including a career-best 11 from starter Ethan Stewart (1-1) as he went seven strong innings in his first collegiate start.
TC scored three runs in the second inning including a two-run homer by freshman second baseman Daulton Martin for his first collegiate round-tripper. TC added another run in the inning on Frankie Valle's sacrifice fly and a 3-0 Tusculum lead.
TC added another run in the third on Martin's two-out RBI single up the middle.
Lenoir-Rhyne cut the deficit in half with two runs in the bottom of the third when Zach Jacobs hit a two-run single.
The Pioneers added three runs in the fourth to move out to a 7-2 advantage with the big hit coming on Evans' two-out, two-run double.
Stewart worked out of a jam in the bottom of the fourth inning as the Bears loaded the bases with one out. But Stewart worked out of trouble with a strikeout and a ground out to end the threat. He followed that by retiring the Bears 1-2-3 over the next three innings.
The Pioneers added a run in the eighth inning on an Edison Cabrera RBI one-out single to make it an 8-2 game.
But the Bears would not give up as LR scored a pair of runs off reliever Tyler Hall in the bottom of the eighth. With TC leading and runners on first and third with no outs, reliever McKenly Berry came aboard in a save situation. He ended the inning with a fly out and completed his team-leading fifth save of the season as he tossed 1.1 shutout innings.
Martin finished the game going 3-for-4 with three RBI, while Cabrera also had a pair of hits in the victory.
L-R starting pitcher John Grigg suffered the loss to fall to 2-4 on the year.
Tusculum returns to action on Wednesday as they travel to Nashville to take on Trevecca Nazarene for a 5 p.m. (EST) contest.