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Pioneers defeat Flagler, fall to #2 North Georgia for second straight day

Pioneers defeat Flagler, fall to #2 North Georgia for second straight day

DAHLONEGA, Ga. --- For the second straight day, the Tusculum softball team defeated Flagler and lost to second-ranked North Georgia at the Captain D's Surf 'n Turf Classic. The Pioneers beat Flagler 3-1 in their first game of the day, then fell to the Nighthawks 7-0 in the final game of the Classic.

The Pioneers (10-8) are back in action on Wednesday at King for a 1 p.m. doubleheader against the host Tornado.

Tusculum 3, Flagler 1
The Pioneers defeated the Saints (10-11) for the second time in as many days as Allison Pate (6-2) came on in relief in the fourth inning and threw 3 2/3 scoreless innings for the win. Tusculum scored single runs in the third and fourth innings, and added an insurance run in the fifth after Flagler cut the margin to 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth.

The Pioneers threatened in the first inning as Taylor Battle led off with a single and Anna Alloway drew a one-out walk. However, Saints starter Katlyn McCue retired the next two batters on a fly ball and a strikeout to end the inning. The Pioneers had two on in the second as Brittney Franse doubled and Emma Casey walked, but a fielder's choice grounder kept the game scoreless.

In the bottom of the second, Flagler had its first baserunner off Tusculum starter Taylor Plemons on a leadoff walk to Natalie Murphy, with pinch-runner Zoe Mooney moving to second on a sacrifice bunt. A single by Garland Evans left runners at the corners with two outs, but Plemons retired Morgan Murphy on a fly ball to center to end the inning.

Tusculum broke through in the third as Delaney Guerrero led off with a bunt single, moved to second on a fly ball and scored on a single by Emily Hester for a 1-0 Pioneer lead. In the fourth, the Pioneers went up 2-0 as Sammie West led off with a double, took third on a sacrifice by Morgan Mahaffey and scored on a sacrifice fly by Franse.

Trailing 2-0, Flagler put runners at first and second with one out on a pair of walks. Pate entered the game and allowed an RBI single to Evans, but a pair of fielder's choice grounders retired the side and kept Tusculum ahead 2-1. The Pioneers got the run back in the top of the fifth as Battle led off by reaching on an error and stole second. After Alloway walked, Taylor Johnson singled up the middle to drive home Battle and give the Pioneers a 3-1 lead.

Tusculum threatened in the sixth as Franse walked with one out and Casey reached on an error. A ground out moved the runners to second and third, but Saints reliever Ally Marcano came through with a strikeout to keep Flagler's deficit at two runs. The Saints attempted a comeback in their half of the sixth as Natalie Murphy and Tatum Morgan opened the inning with back-to-back singles, but a batter's interference call was followed by a lineout and a fielder's choice grounder as the Pioneers preserved their 3-1 lead.

The Pioneers went back to work in the top of the seventh as Alloway led off with a single and moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Johnson. An infield single by Hester advanced Alloway to third, and pinch-runner Brittany Fletcher stole second to leave runners at second and third with one out. However, Marcano retired the next two hitters to send Flagler to the last of the seventh. A leadoff walk and a one-out single put the tying runners on base, but a popup to Hester at first was turned into a game-ending double play.

Hester finished 2-for-4 with an RBI as the Pioneers outhit the Saints by an 8-5 margin. Alloway was 1-for-2 with two walks, and West was 1-for-3 with a walk, a double and a run scored. For Flagler, Evans was 2-for-3 with their lone RBI and Natalie Murphy went 1-for-1 with two walks and a run scored.

Plemons worked 3 1/3 innings for Tusculum, allowing one run on one hit with three walks and no strikeouts. McCue (6-6) gave up six hits and three runs (two earned) in 4 1/3 innings for the Saints, walking four and striking out two. In relief, Marcano pitched 2 2/3 innings and allowed two hits and no runs, with three strikeouts and a walk.

#2 North Georgia 7, Tusculum 0
The Nighthawks (24-1), who had just taken their first loss of the season by a 3-2 score to Coker, scored single runs in the first, fifth and sixth innings and tacked on four in the seventh against the Pioneers, who were held to two singles off the bat of Casey by North Georgia starter Kylee Smith (11-0), who struck out 13 and walked none in her fifth shutout in 10 starts.

Playing as the visiting team, the Nighthawks scored in the top of the first against Pate, who started in the circle for the Pioneers. Kaylyn Anthony was hit by a pitch with two outs and scored on a double by Shelby Hammontree for a 1-0 lead. Smith retired the first eight Tusculum batters before Casey singled with two outs in the third. North Georgia received a leadoff single from Hammontree in the fourth and a two-out walk to Brittany Gilliam, but Pate retired the side on a groundout to keep the Nighthawk lead at 1-0.

In the fifth, Sydney Sprague hit a one-out solo home run to extend the North Georgia lead to 2-0, and Alishia Frierson hit a solo shot with two outs in the sixth for a 3-0 Nighthawks advantage. Casey delivered a single in her second plate appearance in the sixth for the second baserunner of the game for the Pioneers.

North Georgia took advantage of the Tusculum defense in the seventh to score four runs off reliever Lizzy Galloway, including an RBI double by pinch-hitter Kristen Adkins, while adding three runs on a pair of errors following an RBI hit by Anthony.

Pate (6-3) gave up three runs on four hits in six innings for the Pioneers, striking out two and walking two. Galloway was charged with four runs (two earned) in one inning, allowing four hits and a walk.

At the plate, Hammontree went 2-for-4 with an RBI and Anthony finished 1-for-3 with two runs scored as North Georgia outhit Tusculum by an 8-2 margin.

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