CLEVELAND, Tenn. --- Tusculum and Lee split a non-conference softball doubleheader Wednesday afternoon, with the host Flames winning the opener 9-2 and the Pioneers holding on for a 12-10 win in game two.
The Pioneers (20-17) will return to South Atlantic Conference action on Saturday with a doubleheader at Wingate, beginning at 1 p.m.
Game 1: Lee 9, Tusculum 2
Taylor Moran and Abby McKinney hit two-run home runs as the Flames overcame an early 2-0 deficit behind an 11-hit attack. Kayla Gooch was 3-for-3 with an RBI and Moran, Brooklynn Frazier and Stevie Baird each had two hits for Lee in the victory.
Tusculum was held to just four hits by Lee starter Leigh Beatenbough (8-8), with both runs coming in the second inning on a two-run home run by Taylor Johnson, which was the 100th hit of her career. Beatenbough struck out eight and walked two while throwing 114 pitches to earn the win.
Pioneer starter Lizzy Galloway (2-3) allowed hits to Baird and Frazier in the first inning, but retired the side with a pair of strikeouts. In the second, Emily Hester led off with a single and scored as Johnson launched her first home run of the season to give Tusculum a 2-0 lead.
The Flames came back in the bottom of the third, loading the bases on a hit batsman, a single and a walk. With two outs, pinch-hitter Macy Stovall connected on a bases-clearing double to put Lee on top 3-2.
Lee added two more runs in the third on a two-run home run by McKinney, her third of the year, and tacked on four runs in the fifth on Moran's 10th homer of the season and RBI singles by Gooch and Baird. The Flames had the bases loaded with one out, but a force out at the plate and a comebacker kept Lee from winning by run rule.
Galloway allowed five runs on six hits in three innings of work for the Pioneers, striking out three and walking one. Taylor Plemons pitched the final three innings in relief for Tusculum, allowing four runs (one earned) on five hits with one strikeout and two walks.
Game 2: Tusculum 12, Lee 10
The Pioneers scored three runs in the first, third, fifth and sixth innings, then withstood a four-run rally by the Flames in the seventh that saw the tying run reach second base with no outs before Galloway retired the side for her second save of the season.
Johnson hit her second home run of the afternoon, Anna Alloway added a solo homer, and Taylor Battle and Emma Casey each had four hits as the Pioneers finished with a season-high 16 hits in the victory.
Lee had 17 hits in the game, led by Moran who was 4-for-5 with two runs batted in and Kayla Louie who was 3-for-3 with a walk and three runs scored. Frazier added a pair of hits, including a home run, and knocked in three runs for the Flames in the loss.
Tusculum opened the scoring with three runs in the top of the first against McKinney, who started in the circle for the Flames. Battle reached on an infield single to lead off the game and Delaney Guerrero followed with a double. Hester drove in Battle with a groundout, and Johnson followed with a home run to center field for a quick 3-0 Pioneer lead.
Lee came back in the bottom of the first with a run against Tusculum starter Allison Pate. Lily Hatcher walked with one out after a 12-pitch at-bat, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on a double by Moran. Bailey Church then capped a 10-pitch plate appearance with another walk, followed by an infield single by McKinney which loaded the bases, but Pate retired the side on a fly ball.
The Pioneers added three runs in the third as Hester and Johnson led off with singles. With two outs, Johnson scored on a wild pitch for a 4-1 Pioneer lead, and after a walk to Pate, Casey singled to right to knock in Alloway. Shonna Penney came on in relief for the Flames and was greeted by an RBI single by Brittany Fletcher which knocked in Pate to push Tusculum ahead 6-1.
Lee cut into the deficit with a run in the bottom of the third on a solo home run by Frazier, her fourth of the season, but Pate stranded the bases loaded for the second time following two singles and a walk. The Flames scored twice more in the fourth on an RBI single by Moran and a two-out wild pitch by Pate, which cut the Tusculum lead to 6-4.
In the fifth, the Pioneers added three more runs as Pate reached on an error with one out and Casey followed with a single. With two outs, Battle singled to center to knock in pinch-runner Courtney Gibson, and an error on a grounder by Guerrero brought home pinch-runner Emily White and Battle to extend the Tusculum advantage to 9-4.
Lee came right back with two runs in the bottom of the fifth against Plemons, who started the inning in relief of Pate. Baird delivered a two-run single to bring the Flames within 9-6, but Plemons retired the side on a comebacker with runners at the corners to end the threat.
Tusculum appeared to put the game out of reach in the top of the sixth with three more runs to take a 12-6 lead. Alloway hit her sixth home run of the season with one out, followed by a bunt single by Sammie West. After a sacrifice by Plemons, Casey's fourth hit of the game was a double to left field to knock in West. After a single by Fletcher moved Casey to third, Battle drove her in with her fourth hit to give the Pioneers a six-run lead.
Still trailing 12-6 entering the bottom of the seventh, the Flames erupted for four runs with no outs. A throwing error brought home the first run of the inning for Lee, followed by an RBI single by pinch-hitter Claudia Jones and a two-run double by Frazier which cut the margin to 12-10. Galloway came in and allowed a single to Moran, but struck out the next two batters and retired the final hitter on a grounder to Johnson at third to finish off the victory.
Johnson went 2-for-5 with two runs scored for the Pioneers in game two, while Fletcher was 2-for-4 with an RBI in her first start of the season. Alloway was 1-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored as all nine Tusculum starters reached base via hit or walk.
Pate (9-8) earned the win despite allowing 10 hits and four earned runs in four innings, with two strikeouts and three walks. Plemons worked two innings of relief, yielding six hits and five earned runs, before Galloway came on to get the final three outs.
McKinney (1-2) gave up six earned runs on seven hits in 2 2/3 innings for the Flames, followed by Penney who surrendered six runs (three earned) on nine hits with three strikeouts in three innings. Erika Greek pitched the final 1 1/3 innings, striking out one while retiring all four batters she faced.