GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- An RBI triple by Sammie West capped a two-run rally in the bottom of the seventh as Tusculum University defeated the University of New Haven 3-2 in non-conference softball action Thursday evening at Red Edmonds Field.
West's two-out triple drove in Brittney Franse with the winning run after Grayson Brown led off the bottom of the seventh with a game-tying home run for the Pioneers (8-5), who snapped a four-game losing streak with the victory.
Franse finished 3-for-3 with two runs scored while West drove in two of the Pioneers' three runs in the victory. Brown was 2-for-3 at the plate as Tusculum finished with an 8-7 advantage in hits over New Haven.
Sierra Whitlock was 2-for-4 for the Chargers (3-3) while Ava Fitzmaurice took the loss after carrying a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh. Five of Tusculum's eight hits went for extra bases, including triples by West and Taylor Battle and doubles from Franse and Emily Hester.
Tusculum caught a break in the top of the first inning as Whitlock led off with a single and moved to second on an error off the bat of Taylor Luzzi. Jovanna Hillman flied out to center for the second out with Whitlock moving to third, but she was called out on appeal for leaving too soon on the tag up.
New Haven went up 1-0 in the second against Tusculum starter Ivee Richesin as Katrina Aponte doubled with two outs, and pinch-runner Hailey Polisano scored on a two-out double off the bat of Madison Derosia for a 1-0 Chargers lead.
Tusculum threatened in the second against Fitzmaurice as Hester led off with a double off the fence in center and moved to third on a one-out single by Brown. However, Fitzmaurice retired the side on a foul popup and a looping line drive to short to keep the New Haven lead at 1-0.
The Pioneers tied the game in the third as Franse led off with a bloop double down the right field line, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly to left by West for a 1-1 deadlock.
New Haven regained the lead in the fifth as Catherine Vaughan led off with a single off Richesin, who was lifted in favor of Taylor Plemons. Vaughan stole second and took third on a fly ball, with Luzzi drawing a walk to put runners on the corners for Hillman, who dropped a single into left to bring in Vaughan with the go-ahead run.
Tusculum looked to tie the game in the sixth as Battle tripled to the gap in right-center to lead off the inning. However, Fitzmaurice struck out the next two Pioneer batters -- her only two strikeouts of the game -- and got the final out on a grounder to third to keep the Chargers ahead by a run.
Plemons stranded a runner at second on a pair of strikeouts to end the seventh, and in the bottom of the inning Brown hit a 1-1 pitch over the fence in left for her second homer of the season and a 2-2 tie. Fitzmaurice retired the next two batters on fly balls to the outfield, but Franse picked up her third hit of the game with two outs and scored easily on West's walk-off hit, her second of the season.
Plemons (3-2) worked three innings of relief for the Pioneers, allowing two hits and no runs while striking out three and walking two. Richesin gave up two earned runs on five hits in four innings, with a strikeout and a walk.
Fitzmaurice (3-2) threw 6 2/3 innings for the Chargers, surrendering three earned runs on eight hits with two strikeouts and no walks.
New Haven is scheduled to play a doubleheader with Virginia-Wise on Friday starting at 1 p.m. as part of the Pioneer Classic at Red Edmonds Field. Tusculum's next game will be Saturday morning at 10 a.m. in a rematch with New Haven.