Tusculum Athletics

MARS HILL, N.C. -- Cody Coffman hit Tusculum College's sixth home run of the game, a three-run shot in the top of the ninth inning, as the 12th-ranked Pioneers outslugged Mars Hill College 19-15 in a non-conference baseball game at Henderson Field on Wednesday.

The Pioneers are off to a 6-0 start for the second time in recorded school history, matching the 2007 team for the program's best-ever start. The Lions dropped to 5-6 despite overcoming a 10-0 first-inning deficit to take a 15-14 lead in the eighth.

Tusculum finished with 20 hits in the slugfest, including two home runs apiece from Alexi Colon and Rolondo Bonner. Colon and Bonner each had three hits in the victory, as did Sean Cotten, Nate Reid and Coffman. Bonner reached base in all six of his plate appearances (three hits, three walks) and scored four runs while Colon drove home six.

Seven of the Pioneers' nine starters had at least two hits and all nine starters scored at least one run. Bonner, Reid and Coffman all drove in three runs while Aaron Guinn went 2-for-4 with three runs scored and Payden Houser finished 2-for-5 with a pair of RBI.

Mars Hill hit five home runs and had 12 extra-base hits among their 19 hits in the game. Brandon King went 4-for-6 with two home runs and four runs batted in and Rusty Smith finished 4-for-6 with three doubles, a home run and three runs scored. All nine Lions starters had at least one hit and one run scored in the contest.

The Pioneers scored 10 runs in the top of the first inning off Lions starter Dustin Harrill. Bonner and Reid hit two-run homers to give Tusculum a 4-0 lead after four batters, and Colon hit a grand slam to extend the Pioneers' advantage to 8-0.

Mars Hill chipped away with three runs in the first, four in the fourth and three in the fourth to pull within 13-10. Tusculum led 14-12 after five innings, and the Lions tacked on a run in the seventh to pull within 14-13. In the eighth, Coty Pate hit a two-run homer off Tusculum reliever Dylan Hochevar to give Mars Hill its first lead of the day at 15-14.

The Pioneers' ninth-inning rally got underway when Bonner led off with a walk against Tony Hearell (0-2) and Cotten was hit by a pitch. On an attempted sacrifice by Reid, a Lions error allowed Bonner to score the tying run. Coffman then hit his first home run of the season to left-center to give the Pioneers an 18-15 lead. Later in the inning, Houser drove home Guinn with an insurance run to close out the scoring.