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Cole Laskowski
Cole Laskowski (shown here in a game earlier this season against Chowan), went four-for-six with five RBIs in the game one win.
photo courtesy of Lenoir-Rhyne Athletics

Lenoir-Rhyne Baseball Splits Doubleheader With Tusculum

The Lenoir-Rhyne Baseball Team and Tusculum each picked up a victory in their series-opening doubleheader. The Bears started off the day by winning the nine-inning contest, 14-4 while the Pioneers earned a walk-off victory in the second game, 7-6.

In the first game of the day, the Bears jumped out to an early lead by scoring three runs in both the first and second innings.

Three Bears recorded three or more hits in the contest while four LR batters drove in two or more runs. To put the cherry on top, the Bears scored five runs in the ninth to seal their second-straight conference victory, which came in 14-4 result.

For the night cap, LR had another impressive start by scoring the first six runs of the game with a two-run first and a four-run third.

However, the Pioneers responded by scoring six unanswered runs to bring the game to a tie and forcing extra innings. In the eighth, Tusculum’s Luis Reyes sacrifice flyout was just deep enough to give the hosts the 7-6 win.

In game one, Cole Laskowski erupted for an impressive performance as the redshirt junior went 4-6 with five RBIs, both of those were team-highs. Sal Carricato re-gained his lead with the most home runs at eight. The redshirt junior hit a two-run home run in the top of the first.

Kellen Gradisar got the start on the mound for the Bears. The freshman allowed nine hits and four earned runs in his six innings pitched.

Jovani Wiggs led the LR batting order for only the second time this season. The junior went 3-5 with two runs and one RBI. Zach Evans recorded his third three-hit game of the season. The redshirt junior had two RBIs and scored one run.

The LR bullpen combined for three innings pitched. Between Cole Bramhall, Spencer Floyd and Caleb Cockerham, they only allowed two hits and two walks.

LR played a clean game in the field while Tusculum committed three errors. The innings where the Pioneers committed errors resulted in nine of the 14 Bears runs.

In game two, Owen Blackledge was the only LR batter who had a multi-hit performance. The junior had two hits, which included a solo home run in the third inning. Carricato hit a home run in back-to-back games. The Long Island, N.Y. native had a three-run home run in the third inning.

The top six batters of the LR order all scored one run in the game. Blackledge, Laskowski, McPeak, Blake Bean, Carricato, and Khi Holiday each touched home once. Holiday successfully stole his 10th base of the season. He becomes the first LR player to reach double figures in that statistic.

This contest had no shortage of strikeouts. Between the 23 total strikeouts, LR was punched out 13 times while Tusculum was put down on strikes on 10 occasions.

Dillon Chapa, who got the start for the Bears, matched his season-high eight strikeouts. The junior had that many in his previous three starts for the Bears.

LR had four errors throughout the contest, with two of them coming in the eighth inning.

With the doubleheader split, Tusculum still leads the all-time series, 53-43. LR’s victory over Tusculum in the first game of the doubleheader was only the ninth all-time win in Greeneville, Tenn.

For the third consecutive series between these two programs, the series outcome will be decided by the final game. With the extra-inning contest, three of the past five conference games that LR has played in has gone into extra innings.

LR needs a victory on Sunday to avoid losing four-straight weekend series. The last time the Bears won a weekend series was against Limestone on Feb. 16-17.

The Lenoir-Rhyne Baseball Team is 16-11 overall, 5-6 in South Atlantic Conference play. They will conclude the three-game series against Tusculum with a nine-inning contest on Sunday, March 17. The Bears and the Pioneers will start the series finale with a 1 p.m. first pitch.