GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Senior Jarel McDade drove in the first two runs of the game but it was an error on his ground ball in the 12th inning that brought home the game-winner in Tusculum's 4-3 walk-off victory over Lenoir-Rhyne on a rainy Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Park.
Tusculum (28-19, 15-7 South Atlantic Conference) clinches the No. 4 seed in next week's Pilot/Flying J SAC Baseball Tournament in Kodak, Tennessee.
Saturday was also Senior Day as Tusculum honored its 14 seniors prior to the game.
The Pioneers rallied from behind twice including the 11th inning when L-R took a 3-2 lead on Brock Johnson's two-out double. In the bottom of the 11th, Sam Urban was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, he moved to second on Seth DeHaven's bunt. Urban moved to third on Jaden Steagall's base hit to put runners on the corners. With one out, Daulton Martin lined out to center but it was deep enough to bring home Urban with the tying run.
TU reliever Mitch McCain retired the side in order in the top of the 12th. In the bottom of the frame, Nate Montgomery hit a double down the right field corner. Pinch-runner Garret Goldberg took over a second base. L-R reliever Hunter Martin got a strikeout of Trey Hinton for the second out of the inning, but McDade grounded a sharp ball to the shortstop, but it went under his glove into the outfield to bring home Goldberg with the game-winning run.
Both teams finished with nine hits apiece but it was three errors by the Bears that proved costly which three of TU four runs being unearned.
Lenoir-Rhyne took a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning thanks to Austin Reed's RBI triple and he would score on a two-out single by Hunter Jackson. Tusculum tied the game in the fourth when Daulton Martin reached on an error to start the game. He moved to second on Montgomery's ground rule double down the left field line. After a fly out, McDade came through with a clutch two-out single to tie the game at 2-2.
Montgomery finished the game with two doubles, his 10th and 11th of the season. TU also got two- hits from Steagall. The Bears were led at the plate by Will Jones' 3-for-5 performance, while Johnson tallied two hits in the loss.
McCain earned the victory to improve to 5-1 on the season as he retired all four batters he would face, including three via strikeout. Hunter Martin (1-4) suffered the loss for the Bears.
Senior starting pitcher Charles Hall tossed seven strong innings in the no-decision and hs posted nine strikeouts including the 200th of his career, becoming only the fifth player in program history to eclipse the 200-strikeout plateau. His 137 strikeouts this year are second in TU history and are currently the most in the nation (NCAA II).
The two teams will wrap up the series with a 3 p.m. doubleheader on Monday at Pioneer Park.