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Coker uses six-run inning in 10-6 win at Tusculum in SAC opener

John Topoleski went 2-for-3 with 3 RBI and was hit by a pitch twice in Friday's SAC opener against Coker (photo by Chris Lenker)
John Topoleski went 2-for-3 with 3 RBI and was hit by a pitch twice in Friday's SAC opener against Coker (photo by Chris Lenker)

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Coker College belted out 11 hits, including four in a six-run fourth inning to spark the Cobras to a 10-6 win over Tusculum College Friday night at Pioneer Park in the South Atlantic Conference opener for both teams.

Coker (8-4, 1-0 SAC) records its fourth straight victory, while the Pioneers slip to 6-6 overall (0-1 SAC).

The two teams combined for 24 hits, seven walks and eight hit batters (4 each) in the contest.

Thomas Lopez went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles, including his two-run, two-base hit in the fourth to get the scoring started for the Cobras.  Coker sent 10 batters to the plate and took advantage of a pair of Tusculum errors to jump out to a 6-0 lead and knock TC starting pitcher Zach Slagle out of the game.

The Pioneers plated a run in the fourth inning when Colby Skeen, who was celebrating his birthday on Friday, singled.  He moved to second base on a Zach Lippincott base hit.  A ground out advanced the runners and Dante Key walked to load the bases.  John Topoleski lined a single to center to drive in Skeen from third, but Lippincott was gunned down at the plate by Coker centerfielder AJ Strnad to end the inning.

The Cobras answered with a run in the sixth when Jon Koski led off with a double to left field and moved to third on a TC error on the play.  After a hit batter to put runners on the corners, Clint Allen put down a sacrifice squeeze bunt down the first base line to bring home Koski to extend the lead to 7-1.

Tusculum responded with three runs in the bottom of the inning off of Coker starter Darius Coldiron.  Daulton Martin reached on a bunt single and scored on Skeen's third double of the season.  Lippincott drew a walk and Nick Lacina singled to right to load the bases. Coldiron got a strikeout, but Topoleski answered with a two-run single to make it a 7-4 game.

But the Cobras answered Tusculum again, all with two outs in the seventh. Coldiron singled and Brooks Estrada was hit by a pitch.  Koski followed with his second double in as many innings to drive in two runs to extend the lead to 9-4.  Coker got a lead-off homer from Allen as he blasted a shot over 404 feet to straight away center field for his first round-tripper of the season for the Cobras' 10th run of the game.

In the bottom of the inning, Coker reliever Cody Brown hit the first three TC batters on four pitches to load the bases.  Griffin Hollifield took over and limited the damage to a pair of runs as pinch-hitter Frankie Valle lined a sacrifice fly to left field to drive in Key.  Jeremy Glore followed with a base hit to right field to bring in Topoleski, but Hollifield settled down and got a strike out and grounder to end the inning as the teams headed to the ninth inning with Coker leading 10-6.

In the bottom of the ninth, Lacina reached on a one-out double.  Key blasted a shot to the warning track in left field, but Coker got the ball into the infield quickly as Lacina was held up at third.  Topoleski was hit by a pitch for a second straight inning to load the bases.  Hollifield ended the game on a double play ground out.

Coldiron (4-1) picked up the victory as he went six innings, allowed 10 hits, four runs, two walks and struck out four.  Though not a save opportunity, Hollifield pitched effectively as he scattered two hits and posted a strikeout in his two shutout innings.

Tanner Crosby tallied two hits for the Cobras, while Allen finished the game 2-for-4 with two runs scored and three RBI.

Slagle (2-1) suffered his first loss of the year as he went 3.2 innings, allowed five hits, six runs, two earned, one walk and three strikeouts.  TC relief pitcher Andrew Willis went the final 1.2 innings as he allowed a hit, no runs, with a walk and struck out a pair.

The Pioneers finished with 13 hits, but left 11 runners on base.  Topoleski continued his torrid hitting as he went 2-for-3 with three RBI.  He has been hit by a pitch 23 times in his TC career, which are tied for the fifth-most in program history.

Glore, Skeen, Lacina and Key all finished with two hits each, joining Topoleski with multiple-hit performances.

The two teams will wrap up the three-game weekend series on Saturday beginning at 1 p.m. with a doubleheader.

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