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Walk-off single from Anderson eliminates Pioneers from SAC Tournament

Christian Cuba pitched 3 1/3 innings of hitless relief against Anderson
Christian Cuba pitched 3 1/3 innings of hitless relief against Anderson

KODAK, Tenn. --- Dillon Carpenter singled home the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning to give Anderson a 7-6 victory over Tusculum in an elimination game at the Pilot/Flying J South Atlantic Conference Baseball Championship tournament Sunday afternoon at Smokies Stadium.

The eighth-seeded Trojans (25-28) won their third game of the tournament and will face fourth-seeded Lincoln Memorial Sunday night in a semifinal matchup. The seventh-seeded Pioneers (25-27) lost for the first time in four meetings with the Trojans this season after erasing an early 5-0 deficit.

Tusculum had taken a 6-5 lead in the top of the ninth as Bryson Ford scored on an error, but Anderson tied the game in the bottom of the ninth on a two-out RBI single by Jackson Strange. In the 10th, the Trojans put their first two runners on base against Pioneer reliever Charles Hall (4-3), and Carpenter came through with a single to left to drive in Trevor Weisner with the winning run.

Carpenter, Strange, William Thomas and Tyler Miller each finished with two hits and an RBI for the Trojans, who finished with 13 hits but left 11 runners on base. Miller also drew two walks, stole a base and scored the tying run in the bottom of the ninth for Anderson.

Ford led the Pioneers at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a double, a walk and two runs scored. Jarel McDade was 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored and Zack Finchum doubled and drove in three runs for the Pioneers, who trailed 5-0 after four innings but rallied with two runs in the sixth and three in the eighth to tie the game.

The Pioneers threatened in the top of the first against Trojans starter Brent Reynolds as Ford walked with one out and McDade followed with a single. However, Reynolds retired the next two batters on fly balls to the outfield to keep the game scoreless.

Anderson opened the scoring in the bottom of the second against Tusculum starter Harbor Jefferson, as Matthew Overton and Strange opened with back-to-back singles and Brandon Odachowski followed with a third straight single to drive in Overton with the game's first run. After a sacrifice bunt, Will Lindsey delivered a two-run single to extend the Trojans' lead to 3-0. Mitch McCain came on for Tusculum with runners at first and second, and got Miller to line into an unassisted double play to Ford at second base to end the rally.

Tusculum tried to get the runs back in the top of the third as Daulton Martin was hit by a pitch with one out and Ford followed with a single to right, but Reynolds again escaped damage on a fly ball and a popup as the Trojans continued to lead 3-0.

Anderson tacked on two more runs off McCain in the fourth as Joseph Strange singled with one out and Thomas added a two-out single. Miller singled to drive home Strange for a 4-0 lead, and an error on a grounder by Carpenter plated Thomas with the Trojans' fifth run. Christian Cuba came on in relief and struck out Chandler Castleberry with two on to keep the deficit at 5-0 for the Pioneers.

The Pioneers got on the board in the top of the sixth as McDade led off with a walk and Colby Skeen doubled to left. Christian Hendrix came on in relief of Reynolds and retired Finchum and Nate Montgomery on ground balls, which drove in McDade and Skeen, respectively, to trim the Anderson lead to 5-2.

After retiring the side in order in the seventh, Handrix ran into trouble in the eighth as Ford and McDade led off with back-to-back singles and Skeen was hit by a pitch. Ford scored on a passed ball to pull the Pioneers within 5-3, and Finchum delivered the tying runs with a two-run double to knot the score at 5-5. Matthew Stanley came on in relief and stranded Finchum at second on a groundout and a strikeout.

The Trojans came back and looked to regain the lead in the bottom of the eighth as Odachowski walked to lead off against Cuba. Hall came on in relief for the second time in the tournament and saw pinch-runner Dalton Shaw steal second and move to third on an error with one out. With the go-ahead run 90 feet away, Hall came through with a strikeout and a groundout to send the teams to the ninth still tied.

Tusculum used a two-out rally to take a 6-5 lead in the top of the ninth as Ford doubled and scored when McDade's grounder to short was mishandled for an error. Hall looked to nail down the win in the bottom of the ninth, but Miller led off with a single and Carpenter followed with a walk. Castleberry struck out swinging for the first out, and Overton flied out to right to advance Miller to third with two outs.

However, the Trojans' Jackson Strange bounced an 0-1 pitch in the hole past third as Miller scored the tying run. Pinch-hitter Chase Stephens reached on a strikeout-wild pitch to load the bases for Joseph Strange, but he struck out to send the game to extra innings even at 6-6.

Stanley retired the Pioneers in order in the top of the 10th, and Weisner opened the bottom of the 10th with a pinch-single. A walk to Thomas put runners at first and second with nobody out, and one out later Carpenter sent a 2-0 pitch into left field for a single which scored Weisner with the game-winning run.

Making just his second start of the season, Jefferson worked 1 1/3 innings for the Pioneers and allowed three earned runs on five hits with a walk and a strikeout. McCain allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits in 2 1/3 innings with one strikeout, and Cuba kept the Pioneers in the game by striking out five in 3 1/3 hitless innings of relief. Hall struck out five in 2 1/3 innings, but was charged with two runs on four hits and a pair of walks.

Reynolds worked five-plus innings for the Trojans, yielding two earned runs on five hits with two walks and a strikeout. Hendrix was tagged for three runs on three hits in 2 1/3 innings with three strikeouts, and Stanley (2-2) finished up by giving up one hit and an unearned run in 2 2/3 innings with two strikeouts.

 

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