GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Placido Torres pitched a game for the ages as the senior left-hander tossed a one-hit shutout with 15 strikeouts in Tusculum’s 1-0 South Atlantic Conference victory over Wingate Friday night at Pioneer Park.
The Pioneers (25-8, 9-4 SAC) record their fourth consecutive win and take over sole possession of first place in the league standings.
Torres (7-0) established a pair of program strikeout records on the night as his 115 this year are already a new record, surpassing the previous mark of 110 he set last season. He also became Tusculum’s all-time leader in strikeouts as his 225 surpasses the previous mark of 218 held by TC Sports Hall of Famer Ken Hughes from 1991-1994.
It is also the second one-hitter Torres has recorded this year, matching the effort against Stillman (Feb. 27, 2016) as he struck out a school record 17 in TC’s 5-0 win over the Tigers.
As much as Torres dominated on the mound, his Wingate counterpart Jordan Newsome was just as outstanding in a classic pitchers’ duel.
Torres retired the first nine Bulldogs to start the game, while Newsome kept the Pioneers off the board through three innings as well. Newsome worked his way out of a two-out jam in the second frame as the Pioneers loaded the bases, but he got out of trouble with a ground out.
In the top of the fourth inning, Wingate centerfielder Shane Billings, the SAC’s top-hitter led off with a sharp single to left field. After a fly out, Billings posted his SAC-leading 21st stolen base of the year and moved to third base on a TC throwing error on the play. But Torres ended the threat with a strikeout and a fly out.
In the bottom of the fourth, Kevin Victoriano led off with a single, moved to second base on a bunt and went onto third on a wild pitch. Nick Lacina drove in the game’s only run with his fly out to bring home Victoriano with the score.
Wingate threatened again in the fifth inning when Austin Turgeon swung on a third strike, but a passed ball on the play allowed him to reach first base. Turgeon moved into scoring position on a bunt but was left stranded there as Torres recorded back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning.
Torres would strike out the side in the sixth inning, including Bailey Connell to start the frame which was the 219th of his career and breaking Hughes all-time Tusculum record. It would be a part of a string of six strikeouts in a row.
The Pioneers got the first batters aboard in the sixth inning on back-to-back hits from Creighton Wilke and Victoriano. But Newsome thwarted the threat with a strikeout and an inning-ending double play to keep it a one-run game.
Clinging to a 1-0 lead and facing the top of the Wingate line-up, Torres got Billings on a grounder for the first out of the frame. But the play of the night was made by Victoriano in right field as he made a diving, acrobatic catch on the warning track to take away Bill Krebs’ bid for extra bases. Torres got an infield pop-up for the final out of the inning and securing his seventh win of the season and 16th of his Tusculum career.
Torres’ 15 strikeouts are the fourth most ever by a Pioneer in a single-game and has recorded 12 or more in seven of his last eight outings.
Victoriano led the Pioneers at the plate with his 2-for-3 effort as Newsome (4-4) tossed 7.2 innings where he allowed one run, six hits, one walk and posted five strikeouts in his 93-pitch performance.
The two teams will wrap up the weekend series on Saturday with a 1 p.m. doubleheader.