Pioneers earn split on first day of North Georgia Classic

Pioneers earn split on first day of North Georgia Classic

DAHLONEGA, Ga. --- Tusculum split a pair of games Saturday at the Captain D's Classic, hosted by the University of North Georgia. The Pioneers defeated Flagler 4-1 in their first game, then lost 8-0 in five innings to the second-ranked host Nighthawks in their second game of the afternoon.

The Pioneers (9-7) will face the same two teams on Sunday, battling Flagler at noon and North Georgia at 4 p.m. at Hill Stadium.

Tusculum 4, Flagler 1
Anna Alloway hit her fourth home run of the season in the first inning and Allison Pate (5-2) scattered four hits and struck out five in a complete-game performance for the Pioneers against the Saints (10-9).

The Pioneers scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning as Alloway hit a two-out home run to open the scoring. Emily Hester followed with a walk, and came around to score on a double by Taylor Johnson for a 2-0 Tusculum lead.

The Saints threatened in the third against Pate as Rachel Hudson led off with a single and moved to second when Jaclyn Mijuskovic was hit by a pitch. However, two fielder's choice grounders sandwiched an infield popup as the Pioneers maintained their 2-0 advantage. Tusculum had a threat in the fourth as Morgan Mahaffey led off with a double and took third on a sacrifice. A walk to Emma Casey put runners at the corners, but a line out and a strikeout ended the threat.

Flagler put a runner at second base with nobody out in the fifth as Morgan Murphy led off with a single and stole second, but Pate brushed aside the threat with a strikeout and two groundouts. Tusculum added to its lead in the bottom of the fifth as Johnson doubled with two outs and scored on a double by Sammie West for 3-0 Pioneer lead.

In the sixth, the Saints scored their only run of the game as Genevieve Mangini was hit by a pitch with one out and scored on a two-out triple by Natalie Murphy which cut the Pioneer lead to 3-1. Tusculum got the run back in the bottom of the sixth as Brittney Franse walked, took second on a sacrifice bunt by Casey and scored on an RBI double by Taylor Battle. Pate closed out the win in the top of the seventh with a pair of strikeouts around a walk to Hudson.

Battle finished 2-for-4 with an RBI for the Pioneers, while Johnson was 2-for-3 with two doubles, a run scored and an RBI. Casey reached base safely twice on walks, and Alloway also drew a pair of walks following her first-inning home run. For Flagler, Hudson was the only player to reach base safely twice, on a hit and a walk.

Pate allowed four hits and one run with one walk and five strikeouts over 110 pitches in her fifth complete game in eight starts for the Pioneers. Katlyn McCue (6-5) gave up seven hits and four runs with five walks and two strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings for the Saints, before Ally Marcano came on to get a pair of outs via strikeout.

#2 North Georgia 8, Tusculum 0 (5 innings)
Shelby Hammontree hit a pair of home runs and Marley Stowers slugged a grand slam as the second-ranked Nighthawks (23-0) picked up the run-rule victory over the Pioneers. Amber Johns (8-0) allowed four hits and struck out four in the five-inning shutout for North Georgia.

The Nighthawks opened the scoring with a run in the first off Pioneer starter Taylor Plemons. Sydney Sprague led off with a double, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch for a 1-0 Nighthawks lead. Tusculum had a baserunner in the first on a walk to Alloway and in the second on a bunt single by West, but left both runners stranded.

In the bottom of the second, Kali Turner was hit by a pitch, Brittany Gilliam walked and Kelly Kahlert reached on an infield single to load the bases. After a popup, Stowers hit her third home run of the season to clear the bases and give North Georgia a 5-0 lead. After a fly out, Hammontree connected for her sixth homer of the year and a 6-0 Nighthawks advantage.

Tusculum put two runners on base in the third on a bunt single by Battle and a single from Delaney Guerrero, but Alloway flied out and Johnson was retired on a popup to end the rally. North Georgia kept the 6-0 lead into the fourth, when a two-out single from Kaylyn Anthony was followed by Hammontree's second home run of the game and seventh of the season for an 8-0 Nighthawks lead.

The Pioneers tried to extend the game in the fifth as Battle singled with two outs and Guerrero walked, but Alloway was set down on a popup to first base as North Georgia came away with the victory.

Guerrero went 1-for-2 with a walk for the Pioneers and Battle finished 2-for-3 for her second multi-hit game of the day for the Pioneers. For North Georgia, Turner was 1-for-1 with a hit by pitch and Stowers was 1-for-2 with a walk in addition to her grand slam.

Plemons (3-4) gave up seven hits and eight earned runs in four innings for Tusculum, striking out two and walking a pair. Johns issued a pair of walks and threw just 74 pitches in the five-inning shutout for North Georgia.