New Haven scores six in fifth to beat Pioneers, 6-5

Alexis Grampp crosses the plate after hitting a solo home run in the seventh inning (photo by Chuck Williams)
Alexis Grampp crosses the plate after hitting a solo home run in the seventh inning (photo by Chuck Williams)

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- A six-run rally in the fifth inning lifted the University of New Haven to a 6-5 victory over Tusculum University at the Pioneer Classic Saturday morning on Red Edmonds Field.

Tusculum's second game of the day against Virginia-Wise was called due to rain with the Pioneers leading 5-0 in the top of the fourth inning. The game was ruled a no contest, which erases all of the statistics accumulated for both teams in the game.

Against New Haven, the Chargers (4-3) scored six unearned runs with two outs in the bottom of the fifth, then withstood a three-run rally in the seventh by the Pioneers to hold on for the victory.

Taylor Luzzi had a two-run single during the Chargers' fifth-inning outburst and finished 2-for-3 for New Haven, which outhit Tusculum by a 6-5 margin. Luzzi was the only player on either team with a multi-hit game.

Playing as the visiting team on the scoreboard, Tusculum took a 1-0 lead without a hit in the second as Alexis Grampp reached on an error with one out and moved to second when Emma Casey was hit by a pitch. A fielder's choice bunt by Morgan Mahaffey loaded the bases, and Brittney Franse drove in Grampp with a sacrifice fly for the first run of the game.

Tusculum starter Allison Pate cruised through the first four innings, allowing a two-out single to Luzzi in the first and a leadoff walk to Mya Case in the fourth, but kept the Chargers off the scoreboard in the fourth thanks to an inning-ending double play grounder started by Franse at second base.

Meanwhile, Tusculum's lead increased to 2-0 in the fourth as Grampp was hit by a pitch from New Haven starter Mia Iodice to start the inning, and took third on a one-out single by Mahaffey. With Franse at the plate, Mahaffey stole second and Grampp scored on the errant throw. The Pioneers had runners at first and second with one out in the fifth after a pinch-single by Tori West and a walk to Emily Hester, but Iodice escaped without along a run.

The New Haven fifth started with back-to-back singles from Melissa Bike and Rachel Crafts, but back-to-back strikeouts by Pate allowed her to see her way out of the inning. However, back-to-back errors by the Pioneers brought in two runs and knotted the game at 2-2. Case then doubled home the go-ahead run, followed by a two-run single by Luzzi and a run-scoring double by Jovanna Hillman to cap the outburst.

Tusculum did little in the sixth against New Haven reliever Ava Fitzmaurice, but rallied in the seventh. Taylor Battle reached on a leadoff single and Grayson Brown followed with a double. Sacrifice flies by Hester and Taylor Johnson enabled Battle and pinch-runner Emily White to score to cut the margin to 6-4. Grampp then hit her third home run of the season to pull Tusculum within 6-5, but Fitzmaurice got the final out on an infield popup to secure the win.

Iodice (1-1) worked five innings for the Chargers, allowing two hits and no earned runs, with two strikeouts and two walks. Pate (3-2) tossed five innings for the Pioneers, giving up six hits and no earned runs with four strikeouts and a walk.

Tusculum is scheduled to play Columbus State Sunday at noon in the final game of the Pioneer Classic. Columbus State is scheduled to face New Haven starting at 10 a.m. at Red Edmonds Field.