BOCA RATON, Fla. --- Zack Finchum went 3-for-4 and drove in the game-winning run with his eighth inning single as Tusculum edged Lynn University 4-3 Sunday afternoon at the LU Baseball Field.
After dropping its first two games of the season, the Pioneers (2-2) rebounded with consecutive wins to split its four-game Florida road trip. Tusculum will host Belmont Abbey next weekend for a three-game series beginning with Friday's 5 p.m. home opener against the Crusaders.
Tusculum defeats the Fighting Knights (2-1) for a third consecutive season and a fourth straight time overall. Lynn suffers its first loss of the year after opening the season with a 7-0 win over top-ranked Delta State and Saturday's 12-11 victory over No. 18 Catawba.
The Pioneers got on the scoreboard in the first inning when Edison Cabrera led off the game with a double and later scored on a two-out throwing error.
The Knights answered in the bottom of the first as Tom Archer led off with a double, moved to third on a ground out and scored on Joe Argumedo's RBI ground out to level the score at 1-1.
Finchum led off the second inning with a double to the gap in left field. He moved to third base on a wild pitch and crossed the plate on McDade's single up the middle to put TC back into the lead at 2-1.
Tusculum starter Leurys Diaz retired the side in order in the third inning and gave up a two-hit single in the fourth. TC tacked on a run in the top of the fifth as Cabrera reached on a fielder's choice and moved to third on a one-out single from Daulton Martin. Lynn starter Rigo Beltran recorded his sixth strikeout of the game as he fanned pinch hitter John Bennett for the second out of the frame. Ryan Orender relieved Beltran to face Montgomery who singled to right to bring home Cabrera for a 3-1 TC lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Knights tied the game at 3-3 on Jake Rouse's two-out, two-run double. Gabe Martinez double to right field but Rouse was tagged out at the plate on Martin's perfect relay from Finchum to end the inning and keep the scored tied.
The score remained tied until the top of the eighth as Montgomery led off with a single and was bunted over by Garrett Dupuis and Finchum came through with his third hit of the game as he legged out an infield single to five the Pioneers a 4-3 lead.
In the bottom of the eighth, TC reliever Pedro Rodriguez, who had pitched two shutout innings, gave up a walk to Martinez. Andrew Willis took over for Rodriguez and got Tyler Green to line out to him on a bunt attempt and doubled off Martinez at first base for the double play. Willis got a fly out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the ninth, Willie Seay led off with a single to put the tying run aboard with the top of the order coming up. Archer laid down a bunt but Willis made the defensive play and threw to second base to get the lead runner. Willis ended the game when he got Shayne Fontana to ground into a double play to record his first save of this collegiate career.
Rodriguez (1-0) picked up the victory as he allowed one hit, two walks and a strikeout in his 26-pitch performance. Willis pitched the final two innings where he allowed one hit on 16 pitches.
Lynn pitcher Phillip Quinn (0-1) suffered the loss as he went 1 1/3 innings, allowed two hits, one run and a walk.
Martin's single in the fifth extends his personal hitting streak, which now stands at 15 in a row dating back to last year.
After playing its first four games on the road, the Pioneers are slated to play 14 of its next 15 games at Pioneer Park.