GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Lincoln Memorial ace Ethan Elliott pitched a four-hit shutout 16 strikeouts to lead the 28th-ranked Railsplitters to a 5-0 win over Tusculum University Friday night at Pioneer Park.
With the victory, LMU (29-12, 16-3 SAC) remains one game behind Newberry College atop the South Atlantic Conference baseball standings.
Elliott (9-2) tossed his first complete game of the season as he limited the Pioneers to four singles with no walks while retiring the last 14 batters to end the game in his 116-pitch performance. He retired the side in order five times and posted a strikeout in every inning and at least two in six of the nine frames he pitched.
Friday's contest was a match-up between two of the top hurlers in the league in Elliott and Tusculum ace Charles Hall (6-2).
LMU plated two runs in the third inning off of Hall as Marco Rios led off with a base hit and moved to second when Hall hit Seth Hunt with an 0-2 pitch. After a strikeout, Tyler Adams drew a walk to load the bases. Chris Salvey grounded single through the left side to drive in two run as LMU led 2-0. Another base hit loaded the bases again, but Hall got out of the jam with back-to-back strikeouts.
In the bottom of the third inning, TU's Zack Finchum, who was celebrating his birthday, led off with an infield single. He moved to second on a bunt and later moved to third on a wild pitch. But Elliott got a strikeout to end the inning and the threat.
TU got the lead-off batter on Nate Montgomery's single to start the fourth. Elliott got a strikeout before a passed ball moved Montgomery to second. But Jarel McDade blistered a liner to Hunt at second base and he doubled off Montgomery for the inning-ending double play.
Both pitchers settled in before LMU added another run in the seventh as Dalton Dedas led off with a single, moved to second and third on back-to-back ground outs before Nate Stinson hit a base hit up the middle to extend the lead to 3-0.
LMU tacked on two unearned runs in the ninth thanks to a two-out single by Brent Richey and a bases-loaded walk by Joe Stucky.
Hall suffered his first home loss of the season as he went seven innings, scattered eight hits (all singles), allowed three runs, walked four and struck out 10 in his 134-pitch effort. It was his ninth double-digit pitching performance of the season giving him a NCAA Division II leading 128 strikeouts this year.
Tusculum's Garrett Dupuis went 2-for-3 for the Pioneers while TU also got singles from Montgomery and Finchum.
For LMU, Stinson and Richey accounted for a pair of multi-hit outings, while Tyler Adams drew three walks as the Railsplitters edged the Pioneers 9-4 in hits.
The two teams will wrap up the three-game weekend series on Saturday with a 1 p.m. doubleheader.