GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Dante Key went 2-for-3 with a home run as Tusculum College rallied from a four-run deficit to defeat visiting Bellarmine University 6-5 Friday afternoon at Pioneer Park.
Tusculum (4-4) captures the series opener in the weekend three-game set with game two slated for Saturday at 1 p.m.
In the second inning, Bellarmine loaded the bases with one following lead-off walk and back-to-back one-out singles from Brad Pfaadt and Drew Greenwood. Bobby Brokamp made a bid for a grand slam with his deep fly ball to left field, but Key came up with a defensive gem as he made a great catch against the wall. Alex Ralph tagged up from third and scored the first run of the game, but the catch halted what looked to be a big inning as starter Zach Slagle got a ground out to end the inning.
The Knights tacked on two more runs in the third when Zac Wiley led off with a walk and Jacob Pendred homered over the right centerfield wall for a 3-0 lead for the visitors.
BU starter Hunter Spencer was cruising along as he retired seven of the first eight batters, struck four of them and the only TC base runner coming via an error. Key broke through with his solo homer to centerfield as the Pioneers trailed 3-1.
The Knights answered with a run in the fourth inning and another in the fifth to make it a 5-1 ball game. In the bottom of the frame, TC pieced together three singles and scored one run on a passed ball and the other on a RBI ground out as the Pioneers trimmed the BU lead to 5-3.
After shaky start through the first five innings, Slagle bounced back by recording eight consecutive outs, including four strikeouts in a row to keep his team within striking distance.
In the bottom of the sixth, Daulton Martin and John Topoleski led off with back-to-back hits. Edison Cabrera drove in Martin with a one-out single and Jeremy Glore followed with another run scoring single to tie the game at 5-5. Will Birch relieved Spencer to face Nick Lacina, who singled up the middle to drive in the go ahead run.
Tusculum reliever Chase McAllister took over on the mound and pitched a perfect eighth and ninth inning to record his first save in a TC uniform. McAllister finished with four strikeouts in his two innings of work.
Slagle picked up the win to remain undefeated on the young season at 2-0. He went seven innings, allowed nine hits, five runs, four walks and struck out seven in his 113-pitch performance.
Spencer (0-2) suffered the loss as he went 6.1 innings, allowing nine hits, six runs, five earned, walked none and posted six strikeouts.
Cabrera finished the game going 2-for-4 with a RBI, while Glore tallied two runs batted in. TC also got a multiple-hit outing from Topoleski, who went 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
The Knights finished with nine hits, including two each by Brokamp and Christopher Allen.