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Pioneers fall to No. 9 Wingate in weekend finale, TC wins series

Pioneers fall to No. 9 Wingate in weekend finale, TC wins series

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- McCann Mellett went 4-for-6 and drove in the go-ahead run in the ninth inning to lead ninth-ranked Wingate to a wild 15-11 South Atlantic Conference win over Tusculum Sunday afternoon at Pioneer Park.

Mellett's RBI single sparked a four-run ninth inning as the Bulldogs (15-4, 4-2 SAC) salvage a win out of the SAC series with the Pioneers (10-8, 4-2 SAC), who capture their second weekend series to start the SAC campaign.

Wingate out-hit the Pioneers by a 19-8 margin as the trio of Ty Andrus, Zach Little and Brett Branton each went 3-for-6 on the day.  Tanner Forry posted a triple and a home run to go along with his game-high four RBI.  Bradley Brown also tallied a pair of hits and drew a pair of walks.  Andrew Llewellyn got on base four times on Sunday with a single and was hit by a pitch three times.

Tusculum's Nate Montgomery and Daulton Martin each went 2-for-4 and drove in three RBI apiece.

Wingate jumped out to a 4-0 lead highlighted by a three-run second inning which was sparked by consecutive RBI single from Branton, Andrus and Mellett.  Mellett followed with a RBI single in the fourth to make it a four-run contest.

Meanwhile, Wingate starter Jimmy Doolittle was cruising along as he faced the minimum nine batters through three innings working around a base hit and a walk.

In the bottom of the fourth, Tusculum's Zack Finchum led off with a walk and came into score on Montgomery's two-out double down the left field line.

In the fifth, the Pioneers erupted for seventh runs as 13 batters went to the plate.  Tusculum only used three hits but took advantage of five walks and a pair of Wingate errors to take an 8-4 lead.

The Bulldogs wasted little time to answer as they plated four unearned runs in the sixth to tie the game at 8-8.  Forry's three-run homer to left field with two outs capped the rally for Wingate.  It was his SAC-leading seventh round-tripper of the season.

Wingate regained the lead in the seventh when Llewellyn was hit by a pitch, moved to second on a bunt and scored on Little's fourth double of the season as the Bulldogs led 9-8.  Wingate tacked on two more runs in the eighth thanks to a Brown RBI single and a pair of Tusculum errors as the lead stretched to 11-8.

But back came the Pioneers in the bottom of the eighth as Daulton Martin belted a two-run double, his team-leading eighth of the year to pull TC within a run.  Bradley Evans reached on a walk and Martin moved to third on Montgomery's deep fly out to the warning track in center.  With two outs, Edison Cabrera tied the game with his RBI single to right to knot the game at 11-11.

But in the ninth inning, 10 Bulldogs went to the plate.  Branton led off with a double for his third hit of the game.  He moved to third base on a TC fielding error and came into score on Mellett's bunt single.  Forry tripled home Mellett from third with an insurance run and the Bulldogs added two more tallies thanks to a walk, two hit batters and a RBI single from Little.

In the ninth, reliever Lane Wildman retired the side in order to seal the Wingate victory.  Wildman picked up the win to improve to 2-1 on the season as he went 1 2/3 innings, allowed a hit, one walk and a strikeout.

Tusculum's Mitch McCain (2-1) suffered the loss in relief for his first setback of 2018.  The Pioneers used eight pitchers in the game while the Bulldogs went through six hurlers.

For Montgomery, he extends his hitting streak to six consecutive games, while Martin has hit safely in five in a row.  Martin has also reached base safely in his last 30 straight games dating back to last year, which includes his 23-game hitting streak which was halted last weekend.

Tusculum has wrapped up its season-long 14-game home-stand and will be on the road on Tuesday for a 4 p.m. contest at regional foe Young Harris.

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