Brevard, N.C. - Champ Stuart had four hits and Chad Funkhouser drove in a pair of runs as the Tornados took on Tusculum on Saturday afternoon at Gil Coan Field. However, backed by a pair of home runs by Cade Stallings and strong pitching performances by Craig Goodman and Taylor Rakes, the Pioneers swept Brevard, 8-4 and 10-1.
Zach Joyce (1-4) and Casey Smith (1-3) took the losses for Brevard (15-18, 7-10 SAC) on the afternoon, while Goodman (7-0) and Rakes (5-1) picked up the victories for Tusculum (26-5, 15-2 SAC) on the road.
Game One: Tusculum 8, Brevard 4
Stallings snapped a 3-all tie in the top of the fifth with an RBI single and Tripper Crisson added a two RBI base hit in the sixth as Tusculum pulled away from Brevard to record the 8-4 victory in game one.
Tusculum opened the scoring in the top of the third as Crisson crossed the plate on a BC throwing error on Lukas Graves’ sacrifice bunt attempt, giving the Pioneers the 1-0 lead. After a groundout gave the Tornados two outs in the frame, Stallings brought in Graves with a two-run home run over the left centerfield fence off Joyce to triple the Pioneers’ lead.
Brevard answered in the bottom half of the inning as Champ Stuart led off with an infield single and Christian Christopoulos followed with a walk. Kramer Clark advanced both runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt before Funkhouser dropped a single down the right field line, bringing in both Stuart and Christopoulos to put Brevard back within one. Eric Renegar followed with a base hit, moving Funkhouser to third, where he came around to score on Zach Merriken’s fielder’s choice, evening the game at 3 apiece.
Tusculum went back up by three as the Pioneers plated a run in the fifth as Stallings singled in Crisson, while Crisson drove in Carlos Santana and Matt Henriksen in the sixth as Tusculum took control of the game in the middle innings.
Henriksen and Cody Coffman also added RBIs for the Pioneers in the seventh and eighth, with Henriksen driving in a run with a sacrifice fly, while Aaron Guinn scored in the eighth off Coffman’s single to straightaway centerfield.
The Tornados attempted to rally back in the bottom of the ninth against Tusculum reliever Scott Simmons. Merriken led off the frame reaching on a walk, but remained on first base until Randy O’Dell’s two-out single to left centerfield. Stuart followed with a single up the middle underneath the pitcher’s glove, scoring Merriken, but Simmons retired the final BC batter on strikes to close out the contest.
Game Two: Tusculum 10, Brevard 1
Tusculum plated six runs in the top of the third to take control of the game as Coffman and Santana drove in two runs apiece in the inning as the Pioneers coasted to the 10-1 victory over Brevard behind Rakes’ complete game.
Santana opened the scoring for the Pioneers in the second inning, singling home Henriksen off BC starter Smith to plate the first run in the game.
Tusculum went up 7-0 after the third as the Pioneers sent 10 batters to the plate in the frame. Stallings plated the first run, scoring Crisson with an RBI single. Coffman added two with a bases-loaded double to right field and Santana cleared the bases with a two RBI double down the right field line, chasing Smith from the contest. Crisson drove in the final run of the inning with a single through the left side of the infield before Zach Huneycutt retired the side with a strikeout to end the frame.
Stallings went deep for the second time on the day in the top of the sixth, driving a 1-0 pitch into the BC bullpen beyond the left field fence, scoring Aaron Guinn to push the lead to 9-0, before Santana drove in the final BC run with a groundout, scoring Joe Polichetti.
Down to their final at-bat, the Tornados began to battle back, snapping the shutout attempt in the bottom of the seventh. Stuart reached on a one-out single and raced around the bases on Bennett Hixson’s double to the left centerfield wall, ending Rakes’ shutout attempt, but the Pioneers’ junior right-hander ended the game with a strikeout to give Tusculum the win.
Brevard and Tusculum finish up the three-game weekend series tomorrow afternoon at Gil Coan Field as the Tornados and the Pioneers faceoff in a nine-inning contest. First pitch between the SAC opponents is set for 1 p.m.