JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – For a second straight week, Carson-Newman hops on a bus for South Atlantic Conference play making the trip to Coker for a 2 p.m. first pitch on Friday and a doubleheader on Saturday starting at noon.
The program is looking to bounce back after losing its last two contests including an 11-6 game on Tuesday against King when the Tornado notched the most hits, 14, against C-N's pitching staff.
"We need to make sure we know where the outfielders are playing," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said about the weekend. "Make sure our guys know the signs. Let's make sure we have a mentality and a plan when we get into the box. Let's sure we have a mentality and plan when we get on the mound. Let's be the aggressor. That's what we have to get through to them on this road trip. Coker has forgotten about [last weekend]. It's a home game for them so they will be fired up to redeem themselves."
The Eagles are looking to win back-to-back SAC series to open a season for the first time since 2015 when they did so in three straight taking two out of three against Catawba, Brevard and Anderson. The last time the program started the year 5-1 in conference play was in 2013 after sweeping 19th-ranked Tusculum and winning two of three at Brevard.
Carson-Newman (9-6, 2-1) and Coker (9-4, 0-3) have met 10 times on the diamond with the Eagles holding the upper hand at 6-4. It will be just the second series held in Hartsville, S.C. as the Cobras captured two out of three during the 2014 season.
The two programs met just once in 2017 with the contest coming in the SAC Baseball Championships in the single elimination portion of the bracket. Seventh-seeded C-N overcame a 3-1 deficit after five innings and Will Gardner hurled his fifth complete game of 2017 to help the Eagles eliminate sixth-seeded Coker.
Gardner, the leader in the league in complete games a year ago, allowed three runs, two earned on seven hits and two walks while punching out eight batters.
It was a 3-3 contest entering the eighth inning. There was a runner at second base and one out when Brett Langhorne roped a 2-2 pitch down the right-field line to plate Hunter Wood. Langhorne went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored as Cade Snapp and Ryan Addington each notched a couple knocks in the late-night affair.
Darius Coldiron led a Coker offense that had one extra-base hit in the game by going 3-for-4 with an RBI and A.J. Strnad went 2-for-3 with a run scored in the affair.
Carson-Newman's pitching staff has been one of the most consistent in the league ranking second in ERA, 3.63, and second in hits allowed per nine innings, 8.6, on the year.
"I think that's a big confidence booster," Griffin assessed. "Any time you go to play a game and you have three conference guys that have been throwing well. It's always good going into any baseball game. The guy on the mound dictates what's going on."
Coker enters play over the weekend after getting blasted by Catawba in the opening weekend being outscored 57-10 giving up at least 15 runs in each game including a 26-1 loss in the first game of the series.
The Cobras return after a four-game road trip where the group is 8-1 inside of the friendly confines this year including wins in seven straight. Chowan's 15-4 in the second game of the year is lone setback at home for the school.
Coach Luke Harrigan's is the worst fielding and pitching team in the league this year. With a .934 fielding percentage, Coker has made at least one error in 11 of 13 games and at least three in five. Despite the miscues, the Cobras hold a team earned run average of 8.16, nearly two runs worse than any other club.
Catawba struck out 33 Coker batters last weekend as Bryson Conner is the team's leader offensively with 13 RBIs while hitting .372 with a couple homers.
On the mound, junior Michael DeVecchio has been one of the best in the league with a nation-leading three complete games on the season. The left-hander is 3-1 with a 2.10 earned run average with 20 punch outs in 25 2/3 innings. After coasting through his first three starts where he allowed 10 hits and no earned runs in 21 innings, Catawba drew eight walks and scored seven runs in 4 2/3 off of DeVecchio.
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