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Tyler McPeak
Tyler McPeak hit his 18th home run of the season, a new LR record for most home runs in a season.
photo courtesy of Lenoir-Rhyne Athletics

Lenoir-Rhyne Baseball Splits Doubleheader in Rain Against Tusculum

The Lenoir-Rhyne Baseball Team were able to overcome the elements dealt by Mother Nature on Saturday evening, with a doubleheader split against Tusculum.

Both games were nothing short of back-and-forth battles between the Bears and the Pioneers, as both teams displayed why they sit among the top half of the SAC standings.

In the opening contest, the Bears used a three-run seventh inning to erase their largest deficit of the game. But the Pioneers delivered an instant response in the top of the eighth with two runs of their own to take the lead and eventually the outcome, 8-6.

In the second game, it was another see-saw match that had the score squared away at four. But this time around, it was LR who broke the contest open with a four-run fifth inning to pull away from Tusculum in a 9-4 result.

Tyler McPeak had an incredible day at the plate with a 5-for-9 performance in both games. The graduate student also had a team-most three RBIs on the day, despite all of them coming in the first game of the doubleheader.

In game one, Sal Carricato led all players with seven total bases with a 3-for-4 performance; the redshirt sophomore was a triple shy of the cycle. Even with the combined 14 runs, this contest could have had much more offense. LR stranded 12 on the base paths while Tusculum left eight on base.

After trailing 2-0 in the first inning, the Pioneers surged with five unanswered runs in the second and the third inning. Out of the six Tusculum RBIs, five Pioneers were responsible for at least one run batted in. Blaze McCauley led the way with two of his own.

Based on the combined efforts, both teams were 5-for-5 on stolen base attempts. Tusculum went 3-for-3 while LR went 2-for-2. Braden Houston recorded his longest appearance of the season with 5.0 innings pitched. The redshirt senior was handed the losing decision by striking out four and allowing four hits and one earned run.

LR pitching combined for eight wild pitches, its most in a single game this season.

In game two, Andrew Patrick has now won three-straight starts for the Bears. The redshirt senior also had his third double-figure strikeout performance with 10 punch-outs.

In addition to another solid individual performance by Patrick, the Catawba, N.C. native now sits fifth all-time in program history with 216 career strikeouts. Even though the Bears came out on top, it was a pretty sloppy game as they committed four errors. It is their most in a single game at home this season.

Five LR batters recorded two hits. Blake Bean, Wade Cuda, Mason Maxwell, Bryce Stober, and McPeak combined for 10 of the 11 LR base hits. “Small-Ball” was the Bears friend in the second game of the doubleheader. In a contest that had only had one extra-base hit, LR relied on contact and aggressive base-running to grab the victory.

With only six innings on offense, the Bears made sure to produce some strong innings with three multi-run frames. Although the fifth inning had the biggest production of four runs, the second and third innings each saw LR score two runs. Seth Willis took the losing decision for Tusculum, which is the ace’s first loss since Feb. 3 vs. Barry.

With the doubleheader split, the series record between these two programs in Hickory, N.C. remain even at 19-19. While suffering a defeat in the first game of the doubleheader, the Bears had their eight-game winning streak snapped.

Regardless of the outcome on Monday, this will be the first conference series of the season that LR has not swept or been swept. After playing the 80th all-time meeting in the NCAA era, Tusculum leads the series, 49-31.

The Bears will look for their first series victory over the Pioneers since Feb. 14, 2015 on Monday, LR swept Tusculum in a three-game series that season.

The Bears are 31-9 overall, 13-4 in the South Atlantic Conference. The Lenoir-Rhyne Baseball Team will return to action on Monday, April 10 at 3:00 p.m. as they will conclude their three-game set against Tusculum at Durham Field.