GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The UVa-Wise baseball team recorded a pair of walk-off wins over Tusculum University Sunday afternoon in South Atlantic Conference action at Pioneer Park.
In the opener, UVa-Wise rallied from a three-run deficit, scoring four times in the bottom of the ninth, including back-to-back hit batters with the bases loaded in a 15-14 win for the Cavaliers. In the night-cap, Gabe Wurtz hit a two-run walk-off homer in a 4-2 win for UVa-Wise.
The SAC series, which was supposed to be the home-opener for the Cavaliers was moved from the Wise, Virginia campus to Tusculum's Pioneer Park due to unplayable field conditions at Stallard Field. Per league rules, though the site was moved to Tusculum, UVa-Wise would be the home team and bat last during the series.
With the wins, the Cavaliers (9-6, 3-2 SAC) snap a nine-game losing streak to the Pioneers (10-9, 0-5 SAC) while also recording their first series win as a SAC member in their inaugural campaign in the league.
Game 1: UVa-Wise 15, Tusculum 14
The Cavaliers were behind by four runs twice, trailing 14-11 heading into the final inning before sending eight batters to the plate in the 15-14 win.
Ethan Fletcher went 4-for-5 with five RBI including the first score in the 4-run ninth inning for the Cavaliers. Tyler Blaum also went 4-for-5 with three runs scored, while Bret Roberts added three hits in the win.
The two teams combined for 29 runs, 33 hits, 15 walks and six hit batters in the three-hour and 27-minute marathon. The Pioneers posted 17 hits including Brandon Trammell's 3-for-4 effort with four RBI while Jordan Beaver finished with three hits and three RBI including a pair of doubles. TU's Bryson Ford also posted three hits, while Daulton Martin added two singles and scored three times.
Tusculum also tied a program single-game record with four sacrifice flies, match the feat which had been achieved five other times including the most recent at Lincoln Memorial in 2010.
The Pioneers bolted out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning including Martin who was hit by a pitch to lead off the game. After posting his 12th stolen base of the year, Martin scored all the way from second on Ford's deep fly out to center field. Trammell drove in two runs with a single to right and Trey Hinton followed with the second sacrifice fly of the game to make it a 4-0 game.
But in the bottom of the second, UVa-Wise scored six unearned runs to take a 6-4 lead. Fletcher had a two-run single, while Dawson Cagle doubled to right field to score two more runs.
The Pioneers responded in the third inning with four runs, including Beaver's two-run double and a two-run single by Trammell as TU regained the lead at 8-6. Tusculum scored two more times in the fourth frame including Hinton's two-out RBI single to make it a 10-6 lead.
Wise scored another unearned run in the bottom of the fourth as Bret Roberts singled in Fletcher to trail 10-7. The Pioneers scored two more times in the fifth inning on back-to-back sacrifice flies from Fuzzy Furr and Luis Ezra, but Wise answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning on a two-out, two-run single by Fletcher as TU led 12-9.
In the top of the sixth, Trammell led off with his third hit of the game and later scored on Beaver's second double of the afternoon as TU extended the lead to 13-9. But once again, the Cavaliers kept in striking distance scoring two times in the bottom of the sixth to pull within two at 13-11.
Neither team scored in the seventh or eighth innings setting up the ninth. Tusculum's Martin led off with a single, moved to second on a bunt and scored all the way from second in Furr's infield hit for a 14-11 TU lead.
But in the bottom of the inning, Jordon Turner led off with a walk and scored on Fletcher's first triple of the year. Roberts hit a slow dribbler down the third base line that was spinning foul but took a hop as Fletcher remained at third with runners now on the corners. Blaum hit a grounder up the line which bounced off of third base to bring home Fletcher with the inning's second run and to make it a 14-13 game.
TU reliever Mitch McCain, who started the ninth, was replaced by Carter Linton. With runners at first and second, Cagle squared up sacrifice the runners into scoring position, but bunted the ball past the pitcher for a hit and load the bases with no outs. With Wurtz at the plate and a 0-1 count, an inside pitch hit him. The play was initially ruled a foul ball, but after a lengthy conference, Wurtz was ruled to have been hit by the pitch and bringing home Roberts with the tying run. Then Tristan Peccerelli stepped to the plate and the offering grazed him to drive in Blaum with the game-winning run.
UVa-Wise reliever Tyler Hayes picked up the victory to go to 1-0 as he pitched the ninth inning. McCain suffered the loss to fall to 0-2 on the year.
Game 2: UVa-Wise 4, Tusculum 2
Wurtz went 2-for-3 in the game and his one-out, two-run walk-off homer to left field broke a 2-2 tie for a 4-2 Cavalier win to sweep Sunday's doubleheader.
With as much offense generated in the first game, the second contest was a pitching gem by both starters including Wise's Greg Duncan (3-0) and Tusculum's Nick Flesher.
Duncan went the distance as he threw seven innings, scattered six hits, two runs, one walk and seven strikeouts in his 104-pitch performance.
Flesher picked up a no-decision as he went five innings, allowed two runs on seven hits, one walk and struck out three.
The Cavaliers scored a run in the bottom of the first inning as Roberts and Blaum led off with back-to-back singles. A Tyler Campbell bunt moved the runners into scoring position before Wurtz drove in Roberts with a ground out to shortstop and 1-0 lead.
Duncan blanked the Pioneers for the opening six innings, while Flesher kept the Cavaliers at bat until the bottom of the sixth when Wurtz and Peccerrelli both singled to start the frame. Horvath reached on a fielder's choice to load the bases with no outs. Collins, who pitched in the first game, came on again in the night-cap. Matthew Branham drove in Wurtz with an infield single, but Collins limited the damage after that with three consecutive strikeouts to end the inning as TU trailed 2-0 heading to the final inning.
In the seventh, Duncan struck out the lead-off batter, but surrendered a solo homer by Jaden Steagall off the scoreboard in left field to trim the deficit in half at 2-1. Trammell tripled to left center and Hinton followed with a clutch RBI single up the middle to tie the game at 2-2.
In the bottom of the seventh with reliever Dawson Gause on the mound, Blaum lined out for the first out of the inning. Campbell drew a one-out walk and pinch runner Kyle Johnson took over at first. But on the first offering by Gause, Wurtz launched a two-run blast over the left field wall and the second walk-off win for UVa-Wise on the day.
UVa-Wise finished the game with nine hits including two hits each by Roberts, Wurtz and Branham. The Pioneers tallied six hits including Hinton's second two-hit game of the day.
The two teams will close out the series on Monday with a 1 p.m. contest at Pioneer Park.