ANDERSON, S.C. – Despite a late rally led by sophomore Steven Cooper’s fourth home run of the season, Anderson University baseball was unable to finish the comeback, as Tusculum crossed four runs in the top of the ninth to earn the 9-5 victory over the Trojans Friday evening at Anderson Memorial Stadium.
With the setback, AU stumbles to 10-19 for the season and 7-9 in conference play, while the Pioneers, who were projected to finish second in this year’s SAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll, improves to 18-10 and over .500 in the conference at 8-7.
Cooper polished off the night with three hits, including an eighth inning home run over the left-center field wall for his fourth home run in Anderson’s last six games. Also adding a double in the fourth inning, the sophomore now has multi-hits in four of his last six contests, increasing his average to .357 for the year.
Also posting multi-hits for the evening was junior middle infielder Brett Cash, finishing 2-for-4 with an RBI in the sixth inning. Senior outfielders Josh Hickman and Paul Como belted out AU’s other extra-base hits for the game, as Hickman hammered his first home run of the season over the left-center field wall in the sixth inning. Como tallied his team-high 12th double of the year in the fourth inning, scoring Hickman and Cooper for the Trojans’ first runs of the contest.
Sophomore right-hander Mitchell Cooksey came on in relief for starter Spencer Earle in the fifth inning. Cooksey tossed 4.1 innings and allowed just one hit. Despite the solid effort in relief, Cooksey’s one hit eventually turned into the game-winning run, as Tusculum’s Chris Waylock scored on a Jeremiah Tullidge double off reliever JT Trujillo. Following the run, the Pioneers tacked on three more to seal the victory.
Tusculum also received solid pitching relief as right-hander Clark Ayers completed 2.2 innings and struck out seven Trojan hitters. Fellow right-hander Billy Sivyer came in for Ayers in the eighth inning and faced five AU hitters and did not allow a hit.
The visitors outhit the Trojans 10-9 as four Pioneers recorded multi-hit games, led by Heath Comerford’s 2-for-4 performance with three RBI and a run scored and leadoff batter Tullidge’s 2-for-4 evening with two doubles.
Anderson returns to action on Saturday when it squares off with Tusculum to conclude the three-game set with a doubleheader. First pitch of the opening game of the day is slated for 1 p.m.