Tusculum beats Erskine in extra innings to earn doubleheader sweep

Tusculum beats Erskine in extra innings to earn doubleheader sweep

DUE WEST, S.C. --- The Tusculum College softball team extended its winning streak to four games with a doubleheader sweep of Erskine College Wednesday afternoon. The Pioneers hit three home runs in a six-run first inning to win the opener 6-2, then pushed across the winning run in the top of the ninth to take the nightcap by a 4-3 score.

The Pioneers (5-1) will be on the road for four games this weekend in the Union University Softball Classic. Tusculum will play against Maryville (Mo.) University and the host Bulldogs both Friday and Saturday.

Game 1: Tusculum 6, Erskine 2
Sammie West, Emily Hester and Robin Stoner all hit home runs in the first inning for the Pioneers, and Eliza Davis pitched five scoreless innings of relief to earn the win. Tusculum finished with 13 hits in the game, including 3-for-4 from Taylor Johnson and two hits apiece by Morgan Mahaffey, Hester and Stoner.

The Pioneers needed just two pitches to take a 1-0 lead as West hit her first career home run to lead off the game. After a single by Mahaffey, Hester hit a two-run home run to center field to extend the Tusculum lead to 3-0 and chase Erskine starter Danica Newton. Jenna Restivo doubled off reliever Samantha Schmidt and Johnson added a one-out single, setting up Stoner for her fourth home run of the season and a 6-0 Pioneer lead.

Tusculum starter Cayla Cecil set down Erskine in turn in the bottom of the first, but ran into trouble in the second. The Flying Fleet loaded the bases with one out on two hit batters and a single, and plated runs on RBI singles by Destiny Miller and Mia Blochaviak to pull within 6-2.

Davis came on in the third after a leadoff walk to Sydney Smith, and retired the side in order in the third, fourth and fifth innings. Erskine had a two-out single in the sixth but Davis finished off the inning by striking out the side.

Tusculum threatened in the seventh on a pinch-single by Taylor Battle, a single by Johnson and a single by Stoner, but Schmidt worked out of the jam with two groundouts. Davis allowed a one-out double in the seventh but retired the last two batters on a fly ball and a strikeout to close out the win.

Davis (1-0) struck out six batters and allowed two hits in five scoreless innings to earn the win for the Pioneers. Newton (0-1) gave up three hits to three batters and took the loss for the Flying Fleet, with Schmidt allowing 10 hits and three runs in seven innings of relief with five strikeouts.

Blochaviak and Brittany Rhinehardt each went 2-for-3 to lead the Flying Fleet, who had five hits as a team in the game.

Game 2: Tusculum 4, Erskine 3 (9 innings)
Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth, the Flying Fleet (1-3) took a 3-2 lead on a two-out, two-run home run by Reagan Davis. However, the Pioneers tied the game in the top of the seventh as Treslyn Reese hit a pinch-hit home run to lead off the frame and tie the score at 3-3.

The Pioneers nearly took the lead in the top of the eighth as Delaney Guerrero was placed on second in the international tiebreaker and moved to third on a wild pitch. Battle hit a fly ball to left and Guerrero tried to score, but was thrown out at the plate by left fielder Blochaviak to keep the score tied 3-3. Erskine put a runner at third base with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, but Tusculum starter Taylor Plemons came through with a strikeout of Brittany Reynolds to send the game to the ninth.

In the ninth, West was placed on second and moved to third on a fielder's choice. After a fly ball out, Johnson delivered a single to center to bring home West with the go-ahead run. Plemons then retired the Flying Fleet in order in the bottom of the ninth to give the Pioneers the sweep of the twinbill.

Erskine took a 1-0 lead in the second as Davis led off with a double and scored on a single by Baylee Browning. Tusculum grabbed the lead at 2-1 in the fourth as West led off with a walk and was erased on a fielder's choice grounder by Hester. Restivo then clubbed her second home run of the season to drive in pinch-runner Shelby Griffin and give the Pioneers the lead, which they held until the Flying Fleet went back ahead in the sixth.

Plemons (2-1) allowed three hits and three runs in nine innings for the Pioneers, striking out five and walking one. Schmidt (0-1) pitched the final three innings in relief of Candace Fitch, allowing one hit and a run while striking out two. Fitch pitched six innings for Erskine, giving up three hits and three earned runs with three strikeouts and two walks.

Reese's home run in the seventh was the 14th of the season for the Pioneers in six games, nearly double the eight home runs the squad hit in 52 games a year ago. Eight different players have hit homers for Tusculum this season, including four from Stoner and two each from Hester, Restivo and Reese.