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Pioneers finish off 3-0 day with sweep of Belmont Abbey

Pioneers finish off 3-0 day with sweep of Belmont Abbey

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Tusculum scored in nine of its 12 turns at-bat in a doubleheader sweep of Belmont Abbey in softball action Friday evening at Red Edmonds Field, winning the opener 9-5 and capturing game two 10-0 in a game shortened to six innings by run rule.

Combined with a 9-0 win over Goldey-Beacom Friday morning, the Pioneers (13-8) won three games in a single day for the first time since defeating Tennessee Wesleyan three times on April 24, 1996. The Crusaders fell to 7-15 with the losses.

Tusculum will play two more games on Saturday as part of the Pioneer Classic, facing Virginia-Wise at 3 p.m. and Goldey-Beacom at 5 p.m.

Game 1: Tusculum 9, Belmont Abbey 5
Sammie West, Brittney Franse and Emma Casey each drove in two runs for the Pioneers, who finished with nine hits and drew six walks in the victory. West, Casey and Delaney Guerrero each collected a pair of hits, while West, Taylor Johnson and Morgan Mahaffey scored two runs apiece.

Tusculum grabbed a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first against Belmont Abbey starter Chace Helms (3-6), as West singled with two outs to drive in Guerrero and Johnson. The Pioneers added a run in the second as Mahaffey singled, moved to second on an error and scored on a squeeze bunt by Guerrero for a 3-0 lead.

Belmont Abbey got on the board in the top of the third on a two-out RBI single by Kaitlin Moore, but Tusculum came right back with three runs in its half of the third. Johnson led off with a single, pinch-runner Courtney Gibson stole second and West reached on a bunt single. After a stolen base put runners at second and third, Mahaffey was safe on a misplayed fly ball as both runners scored for a 5-1 Pioneer lead. Casey then delivered a double to knock in Mahaffey and push the Pioneers in front 6-1.

The Crusaders scored two runs in the fourth off Tusculum starter Allison Pate on an RBI double by Peyton Wilson and an RBI single by Helms, but the Pioneers avoided further damage as left fielder Taylor Battle threw out a runner at the plate on Helms' hit. The Pioneers tacked on an insurance run in the fifth as West walked, moved to second on a passed ball and scored on a Casey single for a 7-3 Tusculum lead.

The Pioneers pushed home two more runs in the sixth as Franse came through with a two-run single to drive home Johnson and pinch-runner Brittany Fletcher, but the Crusaders scored twice off reliever Taylor Plemons in the seventh on a double steal and an RBI single by Melissa Neyhouse. However, Plemons retired the side with two runners on base to finish off a three-inning save in relief of Pate.

Helms led the Crusaders at the plate by going 3-for-4 with an RBI, while Moore finished 2-for-4 with an RBI. Belmont Abbey outhit Tusculum 10-9, but stranded eight runners on base including two in the third, sixth and seventh innings.

Pate (7-3) tossed four innings for the Pioneers in game one, allowing three runs on seven hits while striking out four and walking two. Plemons worked three innings of relief, retiring the side in both the fifth and the sixth while striking out four.

Helms pitched five innings for the Crusaders, giving up seven runs (two earned) on seven hits, with one strikeout and four walks. Ivorie Maltby pitched the sixth for Belmont Abbey, giving up two runs on two hits and two walks in the inning.

Game 2: Tusculum 10, Belmont Abbey 0 (6 innings)
Plemons (4-4) tossed a five-hitter for her second shutout of the season and all nine Tusculum starters reached base via hit or walk in the win. The Pioneers had a pair of four-run innings and piled up 11 hits in reaching double figures in runs for the fourth time this season. Tusculum is averaging exactly seven runs per game in 11 home games this season and has a 9-2 record at Red Edmonds Field.

Johnson led the Pioneers in game two by going 3-for-4 with two runs batted in, while Guerrero was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and West finished 2-for-3 with a triple and two runs batted in. Casey also collected two hits in four at-bats with an RBI, while Franse and Mahaffey each scored twice.

Belmont Abbey starter Annabeth Watkins matched Plemons with two scoreless innings to start the game, although the Crusaders saw scoring opportunities come up empty by leaving runners at first and second in each of the first two innings. Tusculum got on the board in the top of the third as Mahaffey was safe on an error to lead off the inning, moved to third on a sacrifice and scored on a wild pitch for a 1-0 Pioneer lead.

In the fourth, Tusculum broke the game open with four runs as Johnson led off with a double, and pinch-runner Gibson came home on a triple by West. Casey followed with an RBI single for a 3-0 Pioneer lead, and after a walk to pinch-hitter Gabby Williams it was Battle who delivered a two-run single to score pinch-runner Tori West and Franse to extend the Tusculum lead to 5-0.

Watkins left the game in the fourth in favor of Maltby, who allowed a run in the fifth as Guerrero singled, took second on a sacrifice and scored on a single by Johnson. Tusculum put the game away in the sixth as Franse reached on an error and Mahaffey walked. After a double steal, Guerrero singled home Franse and Mahaffey scored on a groundout by Anna Alloway as Tusculum went ahead 8-0. Johnson's third straight hit scored Guerrero for a 9-0 Pioneer lead, and West delivered the final run with another two-out single.

Plemons struck out three and walked four while throwing 106 pitches in six innings for the Pioneers. Belmont Abbey left eight runners on base, and had four runners thrown out on the bases including Neyhouse at the plate on a grounder to Johnson at third in the third inning. Belmont Abbey also had five straight runners reach base in the fourth on three walks and two hits, but did not score due to a runner leaving first base early and another runner out at third attempting to advance on a wild pitch.

Watkins (2-7) allowed five runs (four earned) on six hits in 3 2/3 innings for the Crusaders, with Maltby giving up five hits and five runs (one earned) while walking three in 2 1/3 innings of relief. Alexis Pereiro went 2-for-3 at the plate for Belmont Abbey in game two, with Morgan Smith drawing a pair of walks and Brooke Pegram going 1-for-2 with a walk.

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