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Pioneers rally to 6-5 win at Lander

Pioneers rally to 6-5 win at Lander

GREENWOOD, S.C. --- The Tusculum University baseball team rallied from a four-run deficit to win 6-5 over Lander University Monday night at Dolny Stadium.

The Pioneers (6-7) overcame a 4-0 deficit scoring twice in the fourth inning and four times in the fifth, while the TU bullpen blanked the Bearcats (5-7) over the final five innings.  For Tusculum, it was the team's fifth consecutive win, playing in its fifth game in the last four days.

Bryson Ford led the offense going 3-for-5 including his two-run single in the fifth to tie the game. He would later score the go ahead run later in the inning thanks to Zack Finchum's pinch-hit, two-out single.

The bullpen took over from there as Pedro Rodriguez retired all six batters he would face including the last four via strikeout.  Mitch McCain worked a perfect seventh inning for the Pioneers including two strikeouts.  Andrew Willis gave up a lead-off single in the eighth, but helped turn a 3-6-1 double-play and got a ground out to end the inning.

After striking out the lead-off batter to open the bottom of the ninth, Willis and the Pioneers were in trouble after pinch-hitter Drew Lucky lined a triple off the wall in center field to put the tying run at third base.  TU closer Christian Cuba came aboard and walked pinch-hitter Ward Betts to place runners on the corners.

Lander sent its third straight pinch-hitter to the plate in Vincent Addona and Cuba struck him out on four pitches for a huge second out of the inning.

LU second baseman Bailey Connell, who had homered and doubled twice in his first three plate appearances, sent Cuba's sixth pitch deep to right centerfield where TU outfielder Sam Urban hauled in the catch on the warning track for the final out of the game.

Greeneville redshirt freshman Austin Collins (1-0) picked up his first collegiate victory in relief as he went two innings, allowed two hits, one run, two walks and a strikeout.  Cuba earned his team-leading third save of the season.

The Bearcats scored in each of the first four innings thanks to solo home runs by Connell and Roury Glanton and three sacrifice flies, including two from Kyle Jenkins and one by Nathan Schreckengost.

Tusculum got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth when Trey Hinton and Nate Montgomery posted back-to-back one out singles.  The two would come into score on Jarel McDade's two-out, two-run single up the middle.

Tusculum's Logan McMahan, Jaden Steagall and Daulton Martin loaded the bases with three consecutive walks to open the fifth inning.  Ford stepped up and hit a two-run single through the left side to make trim the LU lead to 5-4.  LU pitcher Nick Foray got a fly out and a strikeout for the first two outs of the inning. But on the strikeout, Ford and Martin stole second and third, respectively.  Foray threw a wild pitch on his first offering to Finchum to bring home Martin with the tying run.  Finchum drove in Ford with the go-ahead run with his liner to right center to give TU its first lead of the game at 6-5.

Both teams finished the game with eight hits apiece as Connell led the Bearcats with his 3-for-5 performance.  Montgomery added two singles for the visitors.

Tusculum returns to action this weekend when they host Goldey-Beacom for a four-game series beginning with Friday night's opener at 6 p.m.

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"TUSCULUM WILL PREPARE STUDENT-ATHLETES TO BECOME PRINCIPLED LEADERS WHO ARE CONTRIBUTING CITIZENS AND CHAMPIONS IN LIFE BY INSTILLING THE HIGHEST VALUES OF CHARACTER, INTEGRITY, AND SPORTSMANSHIP."

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