GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum University baseball team returns to action this weekend as the Pioneers travel to Hartsville, South Carolina for a South Atlantic Conference three-game series at Coker University. TU and the Cobras will begin the series on Saturday with a 12 p.m. doubleheader followed by a 1 p.m. contest on Sunday.
Tusculum (11-9, 1-5 SAC) halted a five-game SAC losing streak to start the conference season with Monday's 17-7 dismantling of UVa-Wise. The Pioneers posted a season-high 20 hits in the series finale with the Cavaliers.
SCOUTING THE PIONEERS
Despite being tied for 10th place in the conference standings, the Pioneers lead in the league in scoring averaging 8.2 runs per game, which is 24th in the country. Tusculum leads NCAA Division II in three offensive categories including walks (125), sacrifice flies (17) and second in stolen bases (53). Seven Pioneers are listed in the SAC's top-five in bases on balls.
The Pioneers raised their team batting average to .299 which is third in the SAC. Leading the Pioneers is two-time All-America second baseman Daulton Martin who is batting .353 with 24 hits including six doubles, one triple, one home run and 14 RBI. His 17 walks are second in the conference and 15th in the nation.
Junior Bryson Ford is second on the roster with his .352 average where he has accounted for five hits, two triples and two home runs, both coming in Monday's game with UVa-Wise. He is riding a team-best 12-game hitting streak where he is hitting .429 during that span. He is second on the team with eight stolen bases and has reached base safely in his last 13 outings.
Catcher Jordan Beaver is hitting .342 with three doubles and eight RBI. He has reached base safely in his last 13 games as well.
Right fielder Brandon Trammell is fourth on the squad hitting .339 with five doubles and is tied for the team lead with 19 RBI. Trammell blasted a three-run homer in Monday's win over UVa-Wise as the University of Tennessee transfer has a hit in his last five contests.
Sophomore infielder Jaden Steagall is batting .333 and leads the team with 25 hits, including five doubles, two homers and 18 RBI. He has gone 8-of-9 on the base paths and has struck out only five times in his team-leading 75 at-bats.
Designated hitter Trey Hinton has raised his batting average to .306 and has gone a perfect 8-of-8 in stolen bases this season. Hinton has reached base in his last 12 games and is fourth on the team with 14 walks.
First baseman Luis Ezra returned to the TU line-up last weekend after an injury. Ezra is tied for the team lead with 19 RBI and leads the team with his three home runs and five sacrifice flies which are the best in the country. Ezra is batting .295, while left fielder Fuzzy Furr has a .292 average with three doubles and a home run.
Gunner Becker has worked his way into the No. 1 spot in the weekend rotation. He has a 2-0 record and a 0.76 earned run average which is second in the SAC and 37th in NCAA II. He has pitched in 23.2 innings with 11 strikeouts in his five starts.
Nick Flesher is slated to get the second start this weekend where he has a 2-1 record with a 3.80 ERA, 23.2 innings and 16 strikeouts.
Trent Collins has made 10 appearances with one start, has a 1-1 record and a 2.03 ERA. Veteran reliever Mitch McCain has a 1-2 record with a 4.41 ERA. He picked up his first win of the year Monday as he pitched the last five innings in relief. McCain has two saves in the ledger and leads TU with his 20 strikeouts in 16.1 innings of work.
Carter Linton is second on the staff with a 1.59 ERA and has a 1-1 record in his nine relief appearances. He has fanned 17 batters and has combined on a shutout. Tusculum has also gone to Sam Loew out of the bullpen where he has a 1-0 record with one save and a 2.16 ERA with 15 strikeouts.
COKER SCOUTING REPORT
The Coker Cobras are tied for ninth place in the SAC standings with a 2-4 league mark and are 8-11 overall. Coker is second in the SAC with his .306 team batting average, but is next to last in ERA (7.27) and sixth in fielding percentage (.957).
Tusculum and Coker have met on the diamond every year since 2014 when the Cobras joined the South Atlantic Conference. The series is tied at 9-9 where Coker is 5-4 in games played in Hartsville, while the Pioneers are 5-4 at home against the Cobras.
Tusculum won last year's series, capturing the series opener 9-0 and won game two, 7-3. The Cobras salvaged a game out of the weekend with an 8-6 win in the series finale.
Following this weekend's series, the Pioneers return to Greeneville to begin an eight-game home-stand. TU will host a two-game, mid-week series with Embry-Riddle (Mar. 10-11) before hosting nationally-ranked Wingate at Pioneer Park, Mar. 13-14.
The Pioneers have already played 15 home games this year where they have a 9-6 record.