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Pioneers rally in game 1, hold on in game 2 for sweep of Davis & Elkins

Tori West slides across with the winning run as the Pioneers rally with four runs in the seventh to beat Davis & Elkins 5-4 (photo by Chuck Williams)
Tori West slides across with the winning run as the Pioneers rally with four runs in the seventh to beat Davis & Elkins 5-4 (photo by Chuck Williams)

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Tusculum University rallied for four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to win game one, and stranded the go-ahead runners on base to end game two as the Pioneers swept a non-conference softball doubleheader from Davis & Elkins College by identical 5-4 scores Monday afternoon at Red Edmonds Field.

The Pioneers (7-1) have won seven consecutive games and will host Lees-McRae on Tuesday at 3 p.m. in a non-conference twinbill. The Senators (1-7) lost four games during a two-day swing through East Tennessee.

Game 1: Tusculum 5, Davis & Elkins 4
Trailing 4-1 entering the bottom of the seventh, the Pioneers strung together four runs on three hits and two walks, with the decisive blow a two-out, two-run double by Sammie West which drove in Alexis Grampp with the tying run and Tori West with the game-winner.

West finished 3-for-4 for the Pioneers, who collected 10 hits in the game but trailed 4-1 as the Senators scored twice in the fourth, once in the fifth and once more in the sixth. Haley Grindstaff carried the lead into the bottom of the seventh, where she gave up a one-out double to Taylor Johnson and a walk to Emily Hester. Grampp followed with a double to right-center that brought home pinch-runners Emily White and Grace Jones to cut the margin to 4-3.

Sara Tobin (0-1) came on in relief and got the second out on a grounder to first as Grampp moved to third. Brown then worked out a walk to put runners on the corners for West, who drove a 2-2 pitch to deep right as both Grampp and Tori West came home to give the Pioneers the win.

Tusculum threatened in the first as Caitlyn Brinkley drew a one-out walk, Johnson singled and Hester walked to load the bases. However, Grindstaff got out of the jam with a strikeout and a foul popup to keep the game scoreless.

The Pioneers went up 1-0 in the bottom of the second as Brittney Franse singled with two outs and stole second. Taylor Battle followed with a bunt single that Grindstaff threw wildly at first to allow Franse to score the game's first run.

The Senators broke through against Pioneer starter Taylor Plemons for two runs in the fourth on a pair of RBI doubles by Ryn Boelter and Jade Allee to go on top 2-1. The Pioneers threatened in the fourth on back-to-back singles by West and Franse, but left both runners on base as Grindstaff induced a pair of popups.

In the fifth, Davis & Elkins tacked on an unearned run which scored on a one-out double by Alyssa Cairns. The Senators went up 4-1 in the sixth on four consecutive two-out singles, the last one by Crawford which drove in Grindstaff.

Boelter finished 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles for the Senators, who collected 12 hits in the game. Cairns was 2-for-4 and Manson finished 2-for-3 in the opener as eight of Davis & Elkins' nine starters had at least one hit.

Franse was 2-for-3 with a steal and a run scored for the Pioneers, and Johnson finished 2-for-4 with a double for Tusculum. Hester was 1-for-2 and drew a pair of walks as Grindstaff and Tobin combined to issue five walks for the Senators.

Grindstaff worked 6 1/3 innings, allowing nine hits and three earned runs with four strikeouts and four walks. Plemons tossed six full innings for the Pioneers, giving up 11 hits and three earned runs while striking out three and walking none. Ashley Scozzari (1-0) pitched a scoreless seventh to earn the win in relief for Tusculum.

Game 2: Tusculum 5, Davis & Elkins 4
Johnson hit a two-run home run in the third inning and drove in another run in the fourth as the Pioneers finished off the sweep of the Senators. Allison Pate (3-0) earned the win and Scozzari escaped trouble in the seventh to earn the save for Tusculum.

Davis & Elkins went ahead in the top of the first as Kelsie Millner led off with a single, took second on a sacrifice bunt, stole third and scored on a popup to shortstop West just on the outfield grass off the bat of Cairns.

Tusculum had runners at second and third in the bottom of the first against Allee, who started in the circle for Davis & Elkins, but she delivered back-to-back called third strikes to leave the runners stranded. The Pioneers had first and second with two outs in the second, but again came away emptyhanded.

In the bottom of the third, Jones led off with a single and Johnson followed with her second home run of the season to deep left to give the Pioneers a 2-1 lead. The homer was the 14th of Johnson's career, moving her into sole possession of sixth place on the Tusculum career home run list.

Davis & Elkins would tie the game in the top of the fourth as Cairns led off with a single, moved up on a bunt and went to third on a popup. After a walk to Brittany Wade, pinch-runner Kaitlyn Giffin stole second and Cairns scored as the throw went into center field.

Tusculum came back with two runs in the bottom of the fourth to take the lead for good. Franse led off with a single and stole second, then took third on a bunt single by Brittany Fletcher. The Senators were able to get an out at the plate as a hard liner off the bat of pinch-hitter Anna Alloway caromed off the leg of third baseman Boelter to pitcher Allee, who threw home to nail Franse attempting to score.

Jones would come through with a single up the middle which brought home Fletcher for a 3-2 Tusculum lead, and Johnson plated Taylor Battle on a ground ball back to Allee in the circle as the Pioneers carried a 4-2 lead to the fifth.

The Senators got a run in the top of the inning on a two-out RBI single by Crawford, and nearly added much more as Rhetta Persinger drove a ball into the wind in deep left that was pulled in by Battle on the warning track with the bases loaded to end the inning.

The Pioneers pushed their lead back to two runs in the bottom of the fifth as pinch-hitter Grayson Brown walked with one out, took second on a groundout and scored on a single by Franse for a 5-3 Tusculum lead.

Scozzari relieved Pate to start the sixth and allowed a leadoff single to Boelter. A sacrifice by Allee moved pinch-runner Payton Maddy to second, and a single by Amy Fincham put runners at the corners with one out. Fincham stole second, but the throw to second from Johnson was cut off by Jones, who fired to Brown at third to nab Maddy off the bag for the second out. Scozzari then retired the side with a strikeout to keep the Tusculum lead at 5-3.

Davis & Elkins rallied in the seventh as Millner led off with a walk, moved to second on a passed ball, took third on a fly ball and scored on a groundout by Cairns. Down to their final out and trailing 5-4, the Senators' Wade singled and moved around to third on a double to the gap by Persinger. However, Scozzari retired Boelter on a foul pop to Brown to end the game.

Both teams finished with eight hits in the game, with Davis & Elkins leaving eight runners on base and Tusculum seven. Fincham was the lone Senator with more than one hit in the game, going 2-for-3 with a run scored. Millner was 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored, and Wade went 1-for-2 with a walk.

For the Pioneers, Franse and Jones each finished 2-for-3 with an RBI and Johnson and Fletcher each reached base twice in four plate appearances. The Pioneers stole five bases without being caught, as Franse, Johnson, Jones, Grampp and Battle each swiped a bag.

Pate worked five innings for the Pioneers, giving up four hits and two earned runs with two strikeouts and a walk. Scozzari pitched the final two innings, allowing an earned run on four hits with a walk and a strikeout.

For Davis & Elkins, Allee (1-3) went all six innings in the circle, giving up eight hits and five earned runs while striking out eight and issuing a pair of walks.

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