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Ten-run inning helps Pioneers split with New Haven

Ten-run inning helps Pioneers split with New Haven

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum softball team split a non-conference doubleheader with New Haven on Tuesday at Red Edmonds Field, with the Chargers scoring seven runs in the third inning of a 7-0 win in the opener and the Pioneers plating 10 runs in the fourth inning of a 15-2 five-inning win in game two over the Chargers.

Tusculum (15-10) opens its South Atlantic Conference schedule on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at Red Edmonds Field against Lenoir-Rhyne, while New Haven (5-8) finishes its trip to East Tennessee with a 1-5 record in six games.

Game 1: New Haven 7, Tusculum 0
Megan Butts (3-3) spun a four-hitter for the Chargers in the opener, striking out four and walking one in her fifth complete game and first shutout of the season. The New Haven offense provided all of the support for Butts in the third inning, scoring all seven runs on four hits, two walks and an error.

Tusculum starter Allison Pate (7-5) allowed a leadoff triple to New Haven's Sierra Whitlock in the top of the first, but retired the next three hitters on two ground outs and a fly ball. Both teams had baserunners in each of the first two innings, but came away empty each time.

In the third, the Chargers loaded the bases with no outs on an error, a single and a fielder's choice bunt. A single from Taylor Luzzi gave New Haven a 1-0 lead, and Jovanna Hillman followed with a two-run double to extend the New Haven lead to 3-0. A pitching change brought Taylor Plemons into the game for the Pioneers, but she issued a pair of walks to force in a run for a 4-0 Chargers lead. With the bases still loaded, Melissa Bike cleared them with a double to left-center as New Haven went ahead 7-0.

Tusculum's best scoring opportunity came in the bottom of the fourth as Taylor Johnson and Emily Hester led off with back-to-back singles. However, a pair of fielder's choice grounders and a strikeout turned the Pioneers away without a run. In the sixth, New Haven loaded the bases on a single and two walks, but Plemons escaped damage by retiring the side on a foul out to left field.

Pate allowed five hits and five runs (four earned) in two-plus innings for the Pioneers, while Plemons gave up three hits and two runs while striking out three and walking four in five innings of relief.

At the plate, Whitlock led the Chargers by going 3-for-4 with a triple and a stolen base, while Hillman was 1-for-3 with a walk and two RBIs. Delaney Guerrero had the only extra-base hit for the Pioneers with a tou-out triple in the bottom of the third.

Game 2: Tusculum 15, New Haven 2 (5 innings)
Johnson tied a program single-game record with three doubles and 11 consecutive Pioneers reached base during a 10-run fourth inning, giving freshman Ashley Scozzari plenty of run support in her collegiate debut. Scozzari (1-0) worked all five innings for the Pioneers, allowing eight hits but just two runs while striking out one and walking none.

All nine starters for the Pioneers scored at least one run after reaching base via hit or walk, with Johnson finishing 3-for-4 with three runs scored and Guerrero going 3-for-3 with two doubles and four runs batted in. Hester and Taylor Battle each went 2-for-3, with Hester driving in three runs and Battle scoring and knocking in a pair.

Johnson's three two-base hits mark the seventh time in program history that a Tusculum player has doubled three times in a game, last done by Kaytlin Stroinski against Coker on April 11, 2015. Morgan Mahaffey singled, walked and sacrificed in three trips for the Pioneers, scoring a pair of runs and knocking in two.

The Pioneers struck quickly in the bottom of the first against Chargers starter Kylie Stonebraker (2-5), as Guerrero doubled with one out and Anna Alloway followed with a walk. Johnson's first double of the game drove in Guerrero with the first run of the game, and Hester followed with a single to score Johnson for a 2-0 Pioneer lead.

The Chargers put two runners on base in the second on singles by Hillman and Bike, but Scozzari retired the side on a pair of ground balls. Tusculum added two runs in its half of the second as Mahaffey walked with two outs and Battle reached on a bunt single, with both runners moving up on a muffed throw. Guerrero then singled to left as both Mahaffey and Battle scored for a 4-0 Tusculum lead.

The Pioneers tacked on another run in the third as Johnson led off with a double, moved to third on a fly ball and scored on a groundout by Emma Casey. New Haven scored its only two runs of the game in the top of the fourth on an RBI double by Hillman and an RBI single by Katrina Aponte which cut the Tusculum lead to 5-2.

Tusculum exploded in the bottom of the fourth with its biggest inning since plating 10 runs against Mars Hill on April 7 of last season. Pinch-hitter Brittany Fletcher was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, Mahaffey laid down a sacrifice bunt and Battle walked to put runners at first and second for Guerrero, who doubled to left to bring home both runners for a 7-2 Pioneer lead. After a bloop single by Alloway, Johnson delivered her third double of the game to score pinch-runner Courtney Gibson and Hester singled to right to bring home Alloway and Johnson to extend the Tusculum lead to 10-2.

After a pitching change, Casey singled and Sammie West and Brittney Franse followed with back-to-back walks, the latter driving in Hester for an 11-2 Tusculum lead. Mahaffey came through with a two-run single to drive home West and Casey, and Battle chipped in with a double to knock Franse and Mahaffey and cap the 10-run outburst. Despite trailing by double digits, the Chargers loaded the bases in the fifth inning on three singles, but a fly ball to Mahaffey in shallow center was turned into a double play at second base to end the game.

Stonebraker (2-5) worked 3 1/3 innings for the Chargers in game two, allowing 11 runs (10 earned) on 11 hits with one strikeout and three walks. Catherine Vaughan came in during the fourth inning and faced six batters, allowing four runs on three hits and three walks before Butts was summoned to retire the final two batters of the frame. At the plate, Luzzi and Hillman each went 2-for-3 at the plate with a run scored.

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