NEWBERRY – The Newberry baseball team picked up a huge win over the Tusculum Pioneers at the Smith Road Complex on Friday night in the first game of the South Atlantic Conference series.
Newberry improves to 15-13 and 8-7 in SAC action while the Pioneers drop to 14-9 and 9-4 in conference play.
The Wolves were able to capitalize on three costly errors from the Tusculum defense and erase two, four-run deficits, going 5-of-15 with runners in scoring position on the evening while pumping out nine runs but still leaving 10 runners on base.
Mike DeLee (Dorchester, S.C.) was magnificent in his long relief effort, entering the game with one out in the third inning and going the rest of the way for the Wolves on the mound. The right-hander went six and two-thirds innings, the longest outing of his career, scattering two hits, walking three, not allowing a run and striking out a career-high nine batters. The sophomore reset his career-high in strikeouts that he previously accomplished on February 28 against Catawba when he fanned seven Indian batters.
On a night where not one person can be singled out for their offensive performance, the entire Newberry lineup contributed in the win. Albert Baur (Philadelphia, Pa.), Brandan Sheridan (Jacksonville, Fla.), Alex Kirby (Chapin, S.C.) and D.J. Martinez (Montpelier, Va.) all tallied two hits each with Baur, Sheridan, Martinez and Robert Kosch (Clemson, S.C.) all driving in a pair of runs at the plate.
The trio of JoJo Bradley (Spartanburg, S.C.), Baur and Kirby also scored two run apiece in the victory.
An offensive explosion occurred in the top of the first inning as Newberry starter Wesley Camp (Pelion, S.C.) got off to a rocky start, surrendering four runs on three hits to put the Wolves in an early 4-0 hole.
However, a one-out single from Bradley in the home half of the first got things rolling for Newberry. The next batter, Baur, roped an RBI-double down the right field to plate Bradley from first and later a two-out double from Jeff Sneed (Cumming, Ga.) drove in Baur from second and cut the deficit to two, as the score stood at 4-2 at the end of the first full inning of play.
After a quiet second inning the Pioneers put up two more runs as a leadoff hit-by-pitch and back-to-back singles produced a score for Tusculum. A walk and single re-loaded the bases but DeLee came on in relief of Camp to force a fly ball to right for the second out of the inning. The runner from third attempted to tag-up and score, but an outfield assist from Nolan Schrenker (Valrico, Fla.) ended the inning and held the score at 6-2 in favor of the visitors from Greeneville.
After DeLee took over he only allowed five Pioneers to reach base, of which only two touched second and one made it as far as third base.
A disastrous fourth inning ensued for Tusculum starter Placcido Torres as he struck out the first batter of the inning but a single from Schrenker and a double down the leftfield line from Marinez put runners on second and third with two away. Kosch delieverd his one hit of the contest at a crucial moment as he went the other way with a 2-2 slider from Torres to plate Schrenker and Martinez, putting the lead back at two for the Pioneers.
An error occurred on the next batter to keep the inning alive, allowing for a RBI-single from Baur and a two-RBI triple from Sheridan to give Newberry their first lead of the game, 7-6, after four full innings.
An inning later, a botched throw on a taylor-made double play ball allowed the Wolves to add to their lead in the bottom of the fifth as Kirby led off with a single and later scored on a base hit by Marinez to move the advantage to 8-6 in favor of the home team.
A leadoff single and a sacrifice bunt put Tusculum in scoring position in the top of the sixth, but DeLee worked a fly out and a strikeout to end the threat and leave the runner stranded at third base. That turned out to be one of two scoring opportunities left for the Pioneers in the game.
The final run of the game came in the bottom of the seventh as another leadoff single from Kirby and hit-by-pitch from Schrenker got the inning started. A sacrifice bunt from Jacob Bass (North Augusta, S.C.) moved the runners up 90 feet to second and third with only one out. A laser line-out plated Kirby for a sacrifice fly off the bat of Martinez to extend the lead to its final resting point of 9-6.
Newberry had one more opportunity in the home half of the eighth as runners were on second and third with one out but Tusculum reliever, Michael Scott, picked up a strikeout and a groundout to end the inning and send the game into the final frame.
The Pioneers made one more push to score as a single and a walk with two outs put runners on first and second, but DeLee struck out the next batter to end the game and record his first win of the season and the second of his career. DeLee moves to 1-1 on the year while Tusculum's Torres dropped to 3-2.
Camp was let off with a no-decision after seeing his shortest outing of the season in 2.1 innings. The senior gave up six runs on seven hits and only struck out one batter, but three walks and two hit batters turned out to thorns in the side to the southpaw as three of the five came around to score.
“Mike DeLee was the story of the game,” head coach Russell Triplett said after the game. “He put up zero after zero [on the scoreboard] and allowed our offense to get back in the game and I thought he was outstanding.”
“We had guys step up offensively and put pressure on people,” Triplett said. “It was a tremendous performance all the way through and I am proud of the way the guys competed tonight.”
Newberry and Tusculum will complete the weekend with a double header tomorrow with a 1 p.m. first pitch.