JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman seeks its first road win of 2017 in South Atlantic Conference play as the Eagles play their final league series of the year for a three-game set at Mars Hill slated to begin Friday at 3 p.m. before wrapping up with a doubleheader on Saturday at noon.
"I think we have won our last two series in terms of midweek games," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. "We have done a good job midweek on the road. Our guys aren't even thinking about that record because all we know is how we are playing these last 10 games. We have been playing very well in these last 10. We are doing quite well with it."
The Eagles and the Lions have met 83 times before this weekend as Griffin's group holds a 56-27 all-time advantage that includes a 25-12 mark at Henderson Field.
Mars Hill has won seven of the last eight meetings between the two programs having won each of the last four series since Carson-Newman took two out three at Mossy Creek in 2012.
The Lions have won each of the last two series held at Henderson Field since the Eagles picked up a three-game sweep in late March 2012.
In 2016, Mars Hill walked out of the Silver Diamond Baseball Complex with a three-game sweep thanks to a big offensive effort. Game one saw the Lions outlast the Eagles 15-12 in 11 innings. With seven homers, Mars Hill hit the most roundtrippers against a C-N team since at least 2002 surpassing Wingate's total of six on March 24, 2012. The loss was the first time since March 19, 2013 that a C-N team lost when scoring 10 or more runs when North Georgia picked up a 14-10 win. It was the most runs the Eagles scored in a loss since falling 15-12 on March 31, 2010 v. Pfeiffer.
In the preseason coaches' poll, Mars Hill was tabbed for an eighth-place finish after ending 2016 ninth. The Lions leave a huge hole at shortstop as the reigning SAC Player of the Year, Evan Rogers, has graduated. He led the league with 19 home runs and finished third in batting average at .390.
Entering this weekend, Mars Hill has won 10 of its last 12 outings with the lone two setbacks coming at home to Catawba. With a 12-12 home record, the club has been better on the road at 14-7. The team is hitting 25 points better on the road, .296 versus .271, while posting an ERA of 3.10 away from home against a 5.39 mark.
Mars Hill boasts the top pitching staff in the league in terms of ERA posting a 4.35 mark tallying a league-leading four shutouts. Despite the quality numbers, the Lions are eighth in the league in strikeouts per nine innings at 7.6. The defense has been the second best in SAC games recording a .975 fielding percentage.
In SAC outings, coach Aaron Rembert's team has the second-lowest batting average on the year hitting .273 but the team ranks eighth nationally in walks with 203.
"They have a very good pitching staff," Griffin said. "Coach Rembert does a very good job with that program. They have quality players on all ends. They can put pressure on you. They have some guys with a little pop. That pitching staff has been really good. They play well at home and it's senior weekend. You know they are going to be charged up."
Senior infielder Hunter Merrill is second in the SAC with a .408 batting average while ranking ninth nationally with 24 stolen bases to help the team rank 10th in Division II with 76.
Sophomore Brad Brubaker enters the weekend third in the league in home runs with 12, eight of which have come in SAC outings, and fourth with 48 runs batted in.
Junior left-hander Zac Brown expects to the ball on Friday as he ranks sixth in the league with 66 strikeouts tallying a 5-3 mark with a 3.75 ERA. At home, Brown is 2-1 with a 2.27 ERA fanning 25 in 35 2/3 innings pitched.
The Eagle Sports Network will be on site providing the play-by-play action from the shopcneagles.com broadcast booth starting 15 minutes prior to the first pitch. The action can be found on cneagles.com/live for the audio stream.
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