KODAK, Tenn. – Top-seeded Catawba used a seven-run sixth inning to pace an offense that tallied 17 hits to defeat seventh-seeded Carson-Newman 11-2 Friday afternoon at Smokies Stadium in the South Atlantic Conference Baseball Championships.
"[Ryan] Eberle has to pitch backwards," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. "He left the breaking ball up. He kept us in it early. As he kept us in it, we weren't able to manufacture anything. As the game was going on, it was like lightning was about to strike if you aren't careful. You have to try to stay in the ball game offensively and try to create some runs. We weren't able to do that."
The Eagles will play in an elimination game Saturday at noon against the team that loses the afternoon battle between second-seed Lincoln Memorial and five-seed Tusculum.
15th-ranked Catawba (36-12) wins the 19th meeting between the two clubs in the conference tournament as Carson-Newman (26-23) holds a 10-9 edge in the series.
Four consecutive two-out singles from Catawba in the bottom of the first inning gave the top seed a 2-0 advantage. Chance Bowden pushed a base hit into center field and Bryce Fowler followed with a knock through the left side of the infield.
The Indians strung together three consecutive singles to ignite the bottom of the fifth inning as Bowden capped the sequence with his second RBI single to center field. Following a sacrifice bunt, Malachi Hanes drove in Kyle Smith on a sacrifice fly to left field to make it a 4-0 affair.
Catawba starting pitcher Russ Weiker had allowed one hit and retired seven straight entering the sixth. Jimmy Rice (Middlesex, N.J.) and Ryan Addington (Cincinnati, Ohio) started the stanza with base hits before moving up a bag on a sacrifice bunt. Paul Kirby (Goodlettsville, Tenn.) put the Eagles on the scoreboard with a sacrifice fly to center field pulling the seven seed with three runs at 4-1.
The Indians exploded for seven runs in the bottom half of the sixth as each of the first nine men reached safely. Luke Setzer blasted a two-run home run over the left field wall to open the scoring in the frame. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases. Bowden was plunked to score Jeremy Simpson. Bryce Fowler and Hanes each tallied RBI singles and a bases loaded walk to Nick Coble capped the inning to give the No. 1 seed an 11-1 advantage after six innings.
The Eagles were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position until Addington lined a single into center field with two outs in the top of the ninth inning with two outs to score Brett Langhorne (Mechiancsville, Va.) to make it an 11-2 final.
Ryan Eberle (Cookeville, Tenn.) fell to 4-7 on the season giving up eight earned runs on 14 hits and two walks in five innings while striking out one batter.
Weiker earned the win to improve to 4-3 on the season firing six one-run innings allowing three hits and a walk and fanning a pair of batters.
Addington notched his 52nd career multi-hit effort going 2-for-3 and reaching base safely four times. Snapp notched a pair of knocks while Rice and Greg Jones (Maryville, Tenn.) had the other hits for Griffin's team.
Every starter for the Indians had at least one hit with the exception of eight-hole batting Nick Coble as hitters five-through-nine drove in nine of the club's 11 runs. Almond finished the day going 4-for-5 with three runs scored while Bowden and Smith each had three knocks.
The Eagle Sports Network will provide the play-by-play coverage with audio and video streams available on cneagles.com/live available for free. Broadcast action begins 15 minutes prior to the first pitch.
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