GREENEVILLE, Tenn. — Newberry stifled a Tusculum rally to win 9-8 in extra innings in the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday at Pioneer Park before another complete-game gem from Ryan Harbin lifted the Wolves to a 3-1 win, a doubleheader sweep, and a series win over the Pioneers.
The Wolves (19-15, 11-7 SAC) have now won four of their last five South Atlantic Conference series dating back to taking two out of three games at Mars Hill March 3-4. Newberry has won eight of its last 10 games overall to move into a tie for third place in the SAC standings, two games behind co-leaders Catawba and Wingate.
Tusculum (18-18, 10-8 SAC) mounted a rally in the 10th inning of Game One moments after stranding the winning run 90 feet away in the ninth. RBI singles by Tyler Ackard and Ben Herring stretched the lead to 9-7 in the top of the 10th, but Tusculum answered back with two walks and a single sprinkled around two strikeouts to load the bases with two outs.
An infield single brought the Pioneers to within a run before Shannon Smith nailed down his fourth save of the year with a fielder’s choice to second base, stranding three runners to bring the Pioneers’ total for the game to 12.
The Wolves had a successful rally of their own to knot the score in the top of the ninth. The tying run crossed the plate on Tommy Passerello’s pinch-hit single through the right side with two outs. Austin Walker and Charlie Fessler combined to escape a jam in the bottom of the frame, getting a groundout and a popout with the winning run at third base to send the game to extras.
The game was a back-and-forth affair that saw Newberry leap out to a 4-0 lead in the first before Tusculum roared back with four runs of its own in the bottom of the inning. Herring put the Wolves ahead 6-4 with a two-run shot to center in the fifth, but the Pioneers answered with a two-run sixth inning and took the lead in the seventh to set up the final sequence.
The Wolves pounded out 16 hits for the second consecutive game. Herring finished the game 4-for-4 with three RBI and a walk. Tanner Lane tied his career high, set in last night’s game against the Pioneers, with three hits of his own.
Freshman pitcher Harbin stole the headlines in Game Two with a complete-game two-hitter to improve his record to 5-1 on the year, tied for fourth in the league in wins behind a trio of pitchers with six. The West Columbia native allowed a single in the first and a home run in the third but retired 10 of the last 12 batters he faced, compiling a career-high nine strikeouts in seven innings of work.
Harbin located 67 of his 112 pitches for strikes and was rarely forced to pitch out of a jam, stranding two in scoring position on a strikeout and groundout in the third, then left another man at third base in the sixth inning with a flyout and strikeout.
Newberry scored single runs in the second, third and fourth frames to steadily pull away from the Pioneers. A perfectly-placed bunt from Sam Jones plated the first run of the game in the second before Dalton Lansdowne’s RBI single an inning later gave the Wolves a 2-1 lead. Jones singled down the right field line to close the scoring in the fourth, giving him multiple RBI for the first time in his career.
Prior to Saturday’s contest, the Wolves would fall to the Pioneers 7-4 in the South Atlantic Conference series opener.