MIAMI SHORES & FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. --- The Tusculum University baseball team split a pair of games on opening day in Florida as Pioneer skipper Brandon Steele recorded his first victory as TU head coach.
Tusculum opened the day with a 7-3 win Friday afternoon at Barry University in Miami Shores. TU loaded the bus and made the 21-mile trek to Fort Lauderdale to take on nationally-ranked Nova Southeastern, falling to the Sharks 17-5.
TUSCULUM 7, BARRY 3
MIAMI SHORES, Fla. --- Tusculum plated six runs in the first inning and pitchers Charles Hall and Christian Cuba took over from there as the Pioneers won their season opener 7-3 at Barry's Feinbloom Field.
Hall (1-0) pitched masterfully as he went five innings, allowed two hits, two unearned runs, one walk and six strikeouts in his 76-pitch performance. Junior reliever Christian Cuba recorded a four-inning save as he scattered two hits, allowed one run and fanned three.
Tusculum sent 12 batters to the plate in the opening inning as Ford led off the game with an infield single and scored on Martin's double to center field for a 1-0 lead. After a pair of ground outs, that moved Martin to third, Barry starter Myles Gaymen loaded the bases with walks to Garrett Dupuis and Sam Urban. Greeneville graduate student Zack Finchum stepped up and singled in Martin and Dupuis for a 3-0 lead. After Jake Wapkinsky was hit by a pitch, Tusculum shortstop Jaden Steagall grounded a single through the right side in his first TU at-bat to drive in Urban and Finchum to extend the lead to 5-0.
Barry went to the bullpen to bring on Pablo Arevalo and he was greeted by Ford as he legged out his second infield hit of the frame to drive in Wapinsky with the sixth run of the inning.
Hall recorded his six strikeouts in the first three innings. He retired the side in order in the first with two strikeouts. After giving up a lead-off single in the second, Hall got a strikeout and a double-play ground out to end the inning. He would strikeout out the side in the third to face the minimum nine batters through three innings.
The Buccaneers plated a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the fourth inning thanks to three TU errors as the Tusculum lead was whittled down to 6-2.
Arevallo held the Pioneers in-check until the top of the sixth inning when Tusculum took advantage of a Barry miscue as Steagall scored from third on a Ford sacrifice fly as TU led 7-2.
Cuba took over for Hall in the sixth as he retired faced the minimum nine for innings sixth through eight as he gave up a one-out single in the seventh but got TU's second double play of the game to end the inning.
The Bucs plated a run in the top of the ninth, but Cuba ended the game with a strikeout to secure the season-opening victory for the Black and Orange.
Tusculum finished the game with eight hits, while Barry was held to four singles.
NO. 18/20 NOVA SOUTHEASTERN 17, TUSCULUM 5
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. --- No. 18/20 Nova Southeastern used a 12-run fifth inning as the Sharks rallied from a 5-0 deficit to defeat Tusculum 17-5 Friday night at the NSU Baseball Complex.
Nova Southeastern finished the game with 16 hits including 10 in the fifth inning as the Sharks sent 17 batters to the dish highlighted by a pair of three-run homers by Ian Acevedo and Mike Rojas.
Tusculum (1-1) got on the scoreboard in the first inning as Bryson Ford led off the game with an infield single and later scored on a RBI hit from Jarel McDade. TU added four more runs in the fourth frame as the Pioneers batted around. Zack Finchum led off with a single and after a fly out, stole second. After a TU groundout, Jaden Steagall began the four-run attack with his RBI single to left. Ford followed with his second infield hit of the game to put runners at first and second. Daulton Martin came through with a RBI double down the left field line. Martin and Ford would both score on McDade's second hit of the game, a two-run single to left field.
Trailing 5-0, the Sharks responded with a five-run inning thanks to a TU error, RBI singles from Samuel Duran and Andrew Labosky and a two-run home run from Rojas to left field off of reliever Andrew Willis to knot the score at 5-5.
In the bottom of the fifth, Brandon Chinea led off with a walk and moved to third on a failed pickoff attempt. Willis looked to get out of the jam as Nathan Chevalier hit a grounder to Ford at third and his throw to Chase Wullenweber was in time to get Chinea out at the plate. Eight consecutive batters reached base from that point including Rojas who homered for a second straight inning as the Sharks put up a dozen runs on the scoreboard. TU went through four pitchers in the fifth before junior Mitch McCain ended the inning with a strikeout of Rojas.
McCain and Greeneville redshirt freshman Austin Collins held the Sharks scoreless for the final three innings. McCain went 1.1 innings allowing one hit, one walk and posted strikeouts. Collins, who as making his TU debut, pitched two innings where he walked two and struck out a pair of the nine batters he faced.
NSU reliever Gil Torres (1-0) picked up the win in relief, while Willis (0-1) suffered the loss for the Pioneers. NSU's Nathan Campbell tossed two shutout innings, while Gabe Rodriguez worked around a walk in the ninth.
Labosky went 4-for-4 with four RBI while Rojas posted five RBI on his two homers. Ian Acevedo and Garrett Wolforth had two hits each for the Sharks.
Ford posted his second two-hit outing of the day as he extends his personal hit streak to 13 consecutive games, dating back to last season. McDade also had a pair of hits, while Finchum tallied two hits for the visitors.
Tusculum returns to action on Saturday as they travel to Palm Beach Atlantic for a 4 p.m. contest against the Sailfish.