GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum University baseball team will be in action again this week with four games including a three-game South Atlantic Conference series at league newcomer UVa-Wise.
Prior to this weekend's trip to Wise, Virginia, the Pioneers (9-7, 0-3 SAC) will close out its nine-game home-stand when they host in-state foe King University on Tuesday for a 5 p.m. single game.
The SAC series at UVa-Wise is slated to begin on Friday at 4 p.m. and wrap-up with a 1 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday at Burchell Stallard Field.
RECAPPING LAST WEEK
The Pioneers opened last week with a convincing 16-6 win over 33rd-ranked Young Harris on Wednesday. TU recorded 14 hits and a dozen walks to knock off the defending Peach Belt Conference Champions for the Pioneers' sixth win in a row. Outfielder Fuzzy Furr led the charge going 4-for-4 with five RBI as he reached base in all six of his plate appearances.
Tusculum ran into a buzz saw in nationally-ranked Catawba as the fifth-ranked Indians swept the three-game series in the opening weekend of South Atlantic Conference play.
TU dropped a 3-2 decision in Saturday's series opener in 10 innings and lost 7-4 in game two. The Pioneers jumped out to a 3-0 lead in Sunday's series finale, but Catawba scored 10 unanswered runs for its 11th consecutive victory after starting the season 0-2.
Two-time All-American second baseman Daulton Martin went 5-for-10 against Catawba on the weekend with three doubles, three runs scored and two walks. Martin also became TU's all-time leader in times hit by pitch, as he was plunked for the 31st time in his career.
The Pioneers batted .284 on the weekend and posted a team .947 fielding percentage committing six errors resulting in 10 of the 20 runs scored by Catawba being unearned. The TU pitching staff posted a 3.46 team earned run average in the three games.
PREVIEWING THIS WEEK
Tusculum hosts the King Tornado in the first of two meetings this season. King is off to a 10-4 starting including a three-game sweep of Chowan University in the Tornado's Conference Carolinas opening series.
The Tornado have won eight of their last nine outings, but three of King's losses have come against SAC teams, dropping two of three at Anderson University and an 18-9 loss last Wednesday at Lincoln Memorial University.
King is batting .332 as a team with Junior Renwick leading the way with his .411 average. He has 23 hits including eight doubles. Bennett McCann is second on the team with a .405 average and leads the team with six stolen bases.
Tusculum and UVa-Wise will meet in a conference game for the first time since 1996 when the two clubs were members of the Tennessee-Virginia Athletic Conference and UVa-Wise as Clinch Valley College. The Pioneers and Cavaliers will face off on the diamond for the first time since 2016 as TU swept the season series. Tusculum has also won nine in row over Wise dating back to 2000.
The Cavaliers are 7-6 overall and 1-2 in SAC play last weekend at Mars Hill University. Senior Tyler Blaum leads the UVa-Wise offense, hitting .395 (5th in SAC) with six doubles, 10 RBI, 12 runs and 11 walks. Matthew Branham is second on the team with his .378 average where he has five doubles and nine RBI.
The trio of Zack James (0-0, 7.84 ERA), Greg Duncan (2-0, 2.05 ERA) and Shawn Campbell (1-2, 7.94 ERA) are slated to be the starting pitchers in this weekend's series with Tusculum. Duncan picked up the win in game two of the Mars Hill series where he pitched 6.1 strong innings with nine strikeouts. His 30 strikeouts this year at third in the league.
As a team, UVa-Wise leads the league in times hit by pitch with 31 and are also tied for the SAC lead with 12 sacrifice flies.
The Pioneers continue to lead the South Atlantic Conference in scoring (122), doubles (30), RBI (108), walks (103) and on-base percentage (.421). TU's 44 stolen bases are also second in the league and ranked amongst the national leaders.
Daulton Martin leads the SAC with his 16 walks and 11 stolen bases. Five Pioneers are listed amongst the SAC's top-10 in walks including Martin, Jaden Steagall (13), Fuzzy Furr (12), Luis Ezra (12) and Trey Hinton (11).
Steagall is the team leader in hits (19 – 9th in SAC) and doubles (5 – 7th in SAC). Ezra is the SAC leader with his 18 RBI and four sacrifice flies, while his three home runs are tied for fourth in the conference.
TU newcomer Gunner Becker is third in the conference with his 0.87 ERA, posting a 2-0 record in his four starts where he has pitched in a team-best 20.2 innings with 11 strikeouts and limiting the opposition to a .171 batting average.
Nick Flesher is 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA while throwing 13 strikeouts in his 18.2 innings of work. The Pioneers have a team ERA of 3.94 which is fifth in the league.
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