WINGATE, N.C. --- The Tusculum University baseball team used some late-inning heroics to sweep a South Atlantic Conference doubleheader at Wingate University Saturday afternoon at Ron Christopher Stadium. It was the league opener for the Pioneers who have recorded 12 consecutive wins.
Tusculum (13-7, 2-0 SAC) got a two-out RBI double from Nate Montgomery in the ninth inning to send the game to extra innings and Trey Hinton's two-out RBI hit in the 11th gave TU a 3-2 win in the opener. In the second game, Tusculum rallied from behind again, scoring six runs in the sixth inning in a 9-4 victory to complete the sweep over the Bulldogs (10-6, 2-3 SAC).
The Pioneers' 12-game winning streak is tied for the fifth longest in school history. TU won 12 in a row from Mar. 3-19 in 2005 and a dozen again from Mar. 16-Apr. 6, 2012.
Game 1: Tusculum 3, Wingate 2 (11 innings)
Hinton went 2-for-4 with two walks and drove in the game-winning run in the top of the 11th inning as the Pioneers prevailed 3-2 in TU's SAC opener.
It was a scoreless pitchers' duel in the first seven innings and Tusculum's Charles Hall and Wingate's Austin Turgeon slugged it out on the mound. Hall limited the Bulldogs to four singles through the first seven innings while Turgeon didn't allow a hit until Hinton broke up the no-hit bid in the seventh with his two-out single.
The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the eighth when Wingate's Zach Little led off with a single, stole second and scored on Justin Guy's one-out double for a 1-0 Wingate lead.
Turgeon retired the first two batters of the ninth, but Bryson Ford reached on a costly throwing error. With new life, Montgomery stepped up and lined a double to the gap in left center to drive in Ford from first base with the game-tying run.
Tusculum closer Christian Cuba took over for Hall in the bottom of the ninth and struck out the side to send the game to extra frames.
In the TU 10th inning, Jarel McDade led off with a walk, moved to second on a Garret Dupuis bunt and scored on Seth DeHaven's two-out base hit as the Pioneers led for the first time 2-1. The Bulldogs tied the game in the bottom of the inning when Little bunted his way aboard with his third hit of the game and later score on Guy's RBI double. With the game-winning run at second, Cuba got out of the jam with back-to-back strikeouts sending the contest to the 11th.
Ford hit a one-out single up the middle and moved to second on Chase Wullenweber's ground out. Hinton answered with a RBI single to left field to drive in Ford with the go-ahead run and a 3-2 lead.
Cuba (3-3) shut down the Bulldogs in the 11th retiring the side in order and two strikeouts to close out the game and secure his third win of the season.
Hall picked up the no decision as he went eight innings, allowed six hits, one run, one walk and 10 strikeouts in his 110-pitch performance. Cuba pitched the final three frame as he allowed one run on two hits, one walk and seven strikeouts.
Wingate reliever Lane Wildman suffered the loss to fall to 2-1 on the year.
Game 2: Tusculum 9, Wingate 4
Daulton Martin went 2-for-4 with four RBI including a double and his fourth home run of the season as Tusculum defeated Wingate 9-4 in Saturday's second game.
Trailing 4-3 heading to the sixth inning, the Pioneers scored six runs on five hits as TU sent 10 batters to the plate in the frame. McDade tied the game with a double driving in Hinton. After a strikeout, Wullenweber drew a walk and DeHaven came through with a two-run single up the middle and a 5-3 TU lead.
Freshman shortstop Jaden Steagall recorded his second hit of the game and Martin posted his league-leading 15th double to drive in two more runs for an 8-3 Tusculum advantage.
Trailing 9-4, Wingate got a pair of walks with two outs against TU relief pitcher Mitch McCain. Harbor Jefferson took over on the hill and got a fly out to end the sixth inning. Jefferson worked around a lead-off walk with a pair of strikeouts to end the game.
Tusculum got on the scoreboard when Steagall led off the game with his first collegiate home run. Wingate answered with a run in the first inning and two more in the second to take a 3-1 lead. TU tied the game in the third on Martin's two-run blast to right field. Wingate took the lead in the fourth on Little's RBI single against TU starter Zach Sanders.
McCain picked up the victory in relief to go to 2-0 as pitched 2.1 hitless innings where he walked five but struck out seven. Jefferson pitched the final inning-and-a-third allowing one walk and two strikeouts. Sanders went 3.1 innings, scattered five hits, four runs, two earned, one walk and six strikeouts as TU pitching fanned 32 Wingate batters in the two games combined.
The two teams will close out the series on Sunday with a 1 p.m. game.