Tusculum uses two big innings in doubleheader sweep over Young Harris

Tusculum uses two big innings in doubleheader sweep over Young Harris

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Tusculum combined for 28 runs and 29 hits en route to sweeping a non-conference baseball doubleheader against visiting Young Harris Wednesday at Pioneer Park.

Tusculum scored 14 runs in the first inning of game one as the Pioneers batted around twice in the opening frame for a 17-4 victory.  TC (26-15) erupted for eight runs in the second inning of the night-cap to complete the sweep with an 11-4 win over the Mountain Lions (14-28).

The Pioneers will close out the South Atlantic Conference regular season with a three-game weekend series at Wingate beginning with Friday's 6 p.m. opener.

Game 1: Tusculum 17, Young Harris 4

Dante Key went 3-for-5 with five RBI, while John Topoleski also had a 3-for-5 effort with three RBI as the Pioneers routed Young Harris 17-4 in Wednesday's first game.

Young Harris jumped out to a 3-0 lead thanks to a three-run homer by Zach Wall in the top of the first inning.

In the bottom of the inning, Tusculum sent 18 batters to the plate, utilizing 10 hits, three walks and two hit-batters as TC scored 14 runs in an inning that took nearly 54 minutes to play.  The 14-runs are the second-most in an inning for the Pioneers, just one off the record 15 scored in the first inning against North Greenville in 2007. 

Six different batters recorded a hit, with Topoleski, Key, Daulton Martin and Bradley Evans accounting for two hits each in the inning.  Evans, who was celebrating his birthday on Wednesday, posted three RBI, including his two-run single in his second trip to the plate.  Key posted five RBI in the frame, including a two-run single in his first trip to the dish and a three-run triple in his second at-bat.  The triple was his first of the year and eighth as a Pioneer, which are tied for the eighth-most in school history.

Meanwhile, Tusculum starter Zach Slagle bounced back from a tough first frame and followed with six strong innings, allowing one unearned run in the sixth for his only blemish down the stretch.  Slagle (5-1) picked up the victory as he went seven innings, allowed seven hits, four runs, three earned, two walks and three strikeouts.

For Slagle, it was his 18th win of his Tusculum career, moving him into a tie for ninth place on the program's pitching wins list.  He improves to 18-6 for his career, including a perfect 4-0 record against Young Harris.

TC relievers Griffen Ebel and Spencer Brothers each recorded a shutout inning in the eighth and ninth to close out the victory. 

Evans finished the game going 2-for-5 with two runs scored, while Frankie Valle added two doubles and a RBI in the win.

Wall went 2-for-4 for the Mountain Lions with two runs scored and three RBI, while Jackson Jones added a pair of hits in the loss.

Game 2: Tusculum 11, Young Harris 4

Zack Finchum went 2-for-2 with two RBI, while Nick Lacina hit a three-run triple to spark Tusculum eight-run second inning in an 11-4 victory for the Pioneers.

Once again, YHC drew first blood scoring an unearned run in the top of the opening frame off of TC starter Chase McAlliser.  Tusculum tied the game in the bottom of the inning thanks to an Evans' sacrifice fly.

In the bottom of the second, Tusculum sent 13 batters to the plate as TC took advantage for five hits and five walks in the frame to score eight runs and take a 9-1 advantage.

McAllister retired the side in order in the second, while Eammon Collins pitched a perfect third and fourth innings, followed by a 1-2-3 fifth by TC's Andrew Willis.

Tusculum added a run in the third on a Lacina sacrifice fly and another in the fourth on a RBI fly out by Key.

Wall provided the big bat again for the Mountain Lions in the sixth with his two-out, two-run homer for his second round-tripper of the day and sixth of the season.

Finchum extends his hitting streak to seven consecutive games, while Topoleski and Jeremy Glore have each hit safely in their last five outings.

Topoleski moved into eighth place on Tusculum's all-time hits list with 195 for his career.  He also became only the eighth player in school history to record over 600 at-bats in a Pioneer uniform (602).