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Hester collects 100th career hit, but Pioneers swept at Lander

Hester collects 100th career hit, but Pioneers swept at Lander

GREENWOOD, S.C. --- Lander swept Tusculum in a non-conference softball doubleheader Saturday afternoon at Doug Spears Field, rallying with seven runs in the sixth inning to win the opener 9-4, and capturing the nightcap by a 3-1 score.

The Pioneers (6-6) will host Glenville State in a doubleheader Sunday afternoon at Red Edmonds Field beginning at 1 p.m., while the Bearcats improved to 11-3 overall with the victories.

Game 1: Lander 9, Tusculum 4
The Bearcats erupted for seven runs on seven hits in the bottom of the sixth inning after entering the frame trailing 4-2. Sydney Grimes had a game-tying two-run double, Chandler Carey added a go-ahead two-run double, and Brianna Surrento had a two-run single during the outburst. Grimes, Carey, Halie Sorrow and Kasey Rogers each went 2-for-3 for Lander as part of a 13-hit attack in the game.

Tusculum's Emily Hester connected for a solo home run in the fourth inning for the 100th hit of her career, while Taylor Battle and Delaney Guerrero each went 3-for-4 with a run scored as the Pioneers finished the game with nine hits.

The Pioneers took a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning against Bearcats starter McKenzi Ferguson as Battle led off with a triple and Guerrero was safe on a fielder's choice. Anna Alloway delivered a sacrifice fly to knock in battle with the game's first run, and Hester knocked in Guerrero with a successful squeeze bunt for a 2-0 advantage. Lander responded in its half of the first against Tusculum starter Allison Pate as Grimes, Carey and Sorrow all singled with one out to load the bases for Kelli McCormack, who tied the game with a two-run single.

The game remained tied at 2-2 until the top of the fourth, when Hester hit her first home run of the season for her milestone hit. Pate ran into trouble in the bottom of the fourth as the Bearcats loaded the bases on an error and hits by Jace Bennefield and Rogers, but reliever Taylor Plemons retired the side on a strikeout and a fly ball to keep Tusculum ahead 3-2.

The Pioneers tacked on a run in the fifth as Brittney Franse led off with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice and scored on a single by Guerrero. Tusculum would load the bases following a walk to Hester, but Ferguson retired the side on a strikeout to end the threat. Plemons walked a pair of batters in the fifth inning, but a strikeout stranded runners at first and second for Lander as Tusculum continued with its 4-2 lead.

In the sixth, Bennefield walked and Rogers and Casey Wooten followed with singles to load the bases with no outs. Grimes then tied the game with a double, and Carey followed with another double to score two more and give Lander a 6-4 lead. The Bearcats would add three more runs on an RBI single by Darlean Ward and a two-run double by Surrento to go on top 9-4. Tusculum would rally in the seventh as singles by Battle and Guerrero and a walk to Hester loaded the bases with two outs, but a strikeout and a fielder's choice ended the game.

Ferguson (6-1) gave up four runs on nine hits in a complete-game effort for Landers, with three strikeouts and two walks. Pate tossed 3 1/3 innings for the Pioneers, allowing two runs on five hits before giving way to Plemons (3-3), who struck out four and walked three in 1 2/3 innings of relief before Lizzy Galloway closed out the sixth.

Hester reached three times for the Pioneers on the home run and two walks, while Bennefield and Ward each had a hit and a walk for the Bearcats in game one.

Game 2: Lander 3, Tusculum 1
All of the runs were scored in the first two innings, as Surrento (4-1) scattered eight hits and struck out three while going the distance for Lander. Pate took over in the first inning after the first three batters reached against Galloway (0-1), and allowed six hits and one run in six innings of relief.

Just as in the first game, the Pioneers scored in the top of the first inning as Alloway hit a two-out solo home run for her third long ball of the season. Lander responded in the bottom of the first with two runs as Wooten led off, stole second and third and came home to score following a walk to Grimes. Following another stolen base and a walk, Pate was summoned from the Pioneer bullpen and gave up a sacrifice fly to Sorrow which gave the Bearcats a 2-1 lead.

Lander scored another run in the bottom of the second as Bennefield led off with a single, stole second and scored on a single by Rogers for a 3-1 lead. Tusculum put two runners on in the third as Battle reached on an error and Guerrero singled, but Surrento retired the side on a comebacker to keep the margin at two runs.

Tusculum loaded the bases in the fifth as Sammie West, Alloway and Hester all singled to load the bases with two outs, but a ground out ended the rally. The Pioneers had a runner in the sixth when Franse was hit by a pitch, and put two runners on in the seventh as Guerrero singled and Alloway walked with one out. Facing the go-ahead run, Surrento retired the final two batters on a fly ball to right field and a grounder to second base.

Franse finished 2-for-2 and reached in all three at-bats for the Pioneers, while Alloway was 2-for-3 with a walk and Guerrero finished 2-for-4. For Lander, Ward and Bennefield each went 2-for-3 in game two. Tusculum outhit Lander 8-7 in the second game, but left 10 runners on base.

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