KODAK, Tenn. --- Chase McAllister pitched shutout ball into the seventh inning as Tusculum defeated Newberry 5-2 in the elimination round of the Pilot/Flying J South Atlantic Conference Baseball Championship tournament Friday morning at Smokies Stadium.
Daulton Martin, the SAC batting champion with a .415 average during the regular season, went 3-for-5 with a two-run double and two runs scored for the seventh-seeded Pioneers (24-25), who advance to face second-seeded Wingate in the double-elimination portion of the tournament starting at 5 p.m. on Friday. Newberry, the sixth seed in the tournament, concludes its season with a record of 25-23.
McAllister (5-2), making his fifth start of the season, worked 6 1/3 innings and allowed just a solo home run to the Wolves' Kevin Clanton, yielding six hits and one walk while striking out three over 90 pitches. Relievers Pedro Rodriguez and Charles Hall worked out of trouble in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively, as Pioneer pitchers combined to strand nine Wolves on base.
Colby Skeen went 2-for-4 with an RBI single for the Pioneers, with Seth DeHaven going 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. Eight of the nine starters for Tusculum reached base safely either by hit or walk, as the Pioneers finished with 11 hits and drew four walks.
The Pioneers got off to a quick start against Wolves starter Ryan Harbin, scoring two runs in the top of the first inning. Martin led off with an infield single and moved to second on a ground out, followed by a walk to Nate Montgomery. A single by Skeen loaded the bases for Zack Finchum, who reached on a bunt single to third base as Martin scored the first run of the game. Harbin struck out Bradley Evans for the second out, but the pitch was unable to be corralled by Newberry catcher Sam Jones as Montgomery scored for a 2-0 Pioneer lead.
McAllister worked around a pair of two-out singles in the first, then retired the next seven hitters before a leadoff single by Derek Olenchuk in the bottom of the fourth. After a wild pitch, Colin Allman followed with an infield single to put runners at first and second with nobody out, but McAllister got Clanton to ground into an around-the-horn double play to shut down the Wolves' rally.
Tusculum added to its lead in the top of the sixth as Garrett Dupuis led off with a single and DeHaven drew a two-out walk. The Wolves summoned lefthander Quinton Driggers from the bullpen to face the lefty-swinging Martin with runners at first and second, and the first-team All-SAC selection thwarted the strategy with a double to the left-center gap to knock home both runners and extend the Pioneer lead to 4-0.
McAllister worked around a two-out single by Olenchuk in the sixth, then made his only mistake of the day to Clanton leading off the seventh, as a 2-1 pitch was hit out to left field for his third home run of the season to put Newberry on the board at 4-1. A hit batsman and a walk brought the end of the day for McAllister after 6 1/3 innings in favor of Rodriguez, who retired the side on a strikeout and a popup.
Newberry rallied again in the eighth as a hit batter and a walk put runners at first and second with nobody out. Tusculum brought in Hall, a second-team All-SAC selection as a starting pitcher, to escape the jam, which he did with a strikeout and two groundouts after the runners advanced into scoring position.
Tusculum added an insurance run in the top of the ninth off Newberry reliever Dylan Southerland, as Martin led off with his third hit of the game, took second on a sacrifice bunt by Jarel McDade and moved to third on a fly out by Montgomery. Skeen then blooped a single into shallow left off reliever Charlie Fessler to drive home Martin for a 5-1 Pioneer lead, and Hall worked around a solo home run by Chase Barbary leading off the bottom of the ninth to record his second save of the season.
Harbin (5-3) allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings for the Wolves, striking out three and walking four. Southerland tossed 2 1/3 innings of relief, giving up a run on two hits while striking out a pair. Olenchuk led the Wolves at the plate by going 3-for-3 with a walk, while Allman was 2-for-4 with a pair of singles.