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Pioneers rally in second game to split with No. 28 LMU

Mitch McCain pitched 5 shutout innings to get the win in Tusculum's 7-5 victory over No. 28 Lincoln Memorial (photo by Chuck Williams)
Mitch McCain pitched 5 shutout innings to get the win in Tusculum's 7-5 victory over No. 28 Lincoln Memorial (photo by Chuck Williams)

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum University baseball team rallied from a 5-0 deficit in Saturday's second game with seven unanswered runs as the Pioneers split a South Atlantic Conference doubleheader with 28th-ranked Lincoln Memorial University.

LMU's Tyler Adams went 3-for-4 with five RBI as the Railsplitters won the opener 8-5.  Tusculum overcame a 5-0 hole in the second game and reliever Mitch McCain pitched five hitless innings as the Pioneers won the night-cap 7-5.

LMU (30-13, 17-4 SAC) wins the weekend series 2-1 and remains in second place in the league standings, two games behind SAC leader Newberry College.  LMU and Newberry will close out the conference season next weekend.  Tusculum (27-18, 14-7 SAC) drops its first league series of the year but remains in fourth place in the SAC.

Game 1: No. 28 Lincoln Memorial 8, Tusculum 5

Adams broke a 1-1 tie with his three-run homer in the fifth inning as the Railsplitters held on for an 8-5 victory in the first game.  LMU posted 13 hits in the victory as Nate Stinson joined Adams with a three-hit performance, while Seth Hunt, Brent Richey and Marco Rios tallied two hits apiece.

Tusculum finished with nine hits including two hits each by Daulton Martin and Bryson Ford.  One of Martin's hits was his 54th career double which ties him for the TU all-time record with Tusculum Sports Hall of Famer Josh Wolff (2003-2006).

LMU starting pitcher Eli Wright (5-0) remained undefeated on the season as he pitched 6.2 innings where he allowed three runs (2 earned), five hits, two walks and two strikeouts.

The Railsplitters jumped out to 1-0 lead in the first inning when Hunt opened with a single, stole second, and scored on Adams' RBI single.

Tusculum tied the game in the fourth inning with one out and a Nate Montgomery at first base, Trey Hinton laced a double to the gap in center field which moved Montgomery to third.  But on the play the ball was bobbled in the outfield, allowing Montgomery to score the tying run.

LMU answered with a four-run frame in the fifth which included six hits, highlighted by Adams fifth home run of the year for a 4-1 lead for the Railsplitters.  After a pop up for the second out of the inning, Stinson recorded his third hit of the game with his 18th double of the season to knock TU starter Zach Sanders out of the game.  Andrew Willis took over on the mound for TU as Richey reached on an infield single to put runners and first and second and Will Reddick hit a two-out double to right field to extend the lead to 5-1.

Tusculum plated a run in the bottom of the fifth as Zack Finchum scored on Martin's sacrifice line out to deep center field to cut the deficit to 5-2.

LMU took advantage of a pair of one out walks as Adams drove in one with a base hit and Chris Salvey drove in the other with a sacrifice fly as the Railsplitters led 7-2.

Tusculum mounted a two-out rally in the seventh when Seth DeHaven was hit by a pitch and he would score from first on Martin's record-tying double, which was also his 22nd of the season which is tied for the second most in school history.  Ford drove in Martin with his second hit of the game as the Pioneers found themselves down by two (7-5).

The Railsplitters scored an unearned run in the ninth inning before LMU closer Devin Morris worked around a two-out hit to post his fifth save of the season.

Tusculum tied a school single-game record by turning four double plays, matching the record posted against St. Rose in 2008 and two years ago against Young Harris in 2017.

Game 2: Tusculum 7, No. 28 Lincoln Memorial 5

Bryson Ford went 2-for-4 and drove in the eventual winning run in the fourth inning as Tusculum rallied from a 5-0 deficit in the first inning to beat the Railsplitters 7-5.

McCain (4-1) tossed one of his best outings of his career as he pitched five scoreless innings where he allowed no hits, two walks and struck out five in this 70-pitch performance.

Both teams came out swinging as LMU and TU both scored five runs each in the opening frame.

Lincoln Memorial scored five times as 11 batters went to the plate where they accumulated five hits, two walks and a hit batsman to take a 5-0 lead.

Tusculum responded with five runs in the bottom of the first as TU had nine Pioneers go to the plate.  Tusculum opened with five consecutive singles, including a two-run hit to right.  Wes Reynolds also drove in a run with a base hit, while Finchum had a RBI fielder's choice to knot the contest at 5-5.

LMU had a great scoring chance in the top of the third when Richey and Reddick led off with back-to-back hits against reliever Colin Johnston.  On came McCain and he got a shallow fly out to left and got Rios to line into a double play to end the inning.

In the bottom of the fourth, Finchum led off with a single, moved to second on Martin's one-out walk.  Ford drove in the go-ahead run with a single, moving Martin to third base.  Garrett Dupuis lifted a fly ball down the right field line which was deep enough for Martin to score an insurance run for a 7-5 TU lead.

McCain faced the minimum nine batters over the final three innings to preserve the victory.

LMU starter Matt Mullenbach pitched well as we went the distance in the loss to drop to 3-3 on the year as he allowed seven runs, 10 hits, two walks and posted nine strikeouts.

Finchum went 2-for-3 for the Pioneers to extend his hitting streak to seven in a row.

Tusculum continues its seven-game home-stand with a non-conference outing with Lee University on Tuesday at 6 p.m.  TU will be looking to avenge last month's 8-3 loss to the Flames.






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