FOREST CITY, N.C. — Second-seeded Mars Hill built an early five-run lead en route to a 6-3 victory over fourth-seeded Carson-Newman on Sunday morning in the Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Baseball Tournament at McNair Field.
With the win, the Lions (29-16) advance to play the No. 2 Catawba later this afternoon 30 minutes after the matchup between the Indians and sixth-seeded Lincoln Memorial. The Eagles (30-17) are eliminated from the tournament with the loss.
Mars Hill starting pitcher Kevin Searcy (Hendersonville, N.C.) tossed a complete game to lead the Lions to the win. Searcy surrendered three runs and seven hits and fanned three to move to 5-4 on the season.
C-N starter Robby Thigpen (St. Petersburg, Fla., 2-5) was tagged with the loss after giving up three earned runs and five hits in 1 1/3 innings of work.
Reliever Ryan Fillers (Greeneville, Tenn.) kept the Eagles in the game with a solid 7 1/3 innings of work. He didn't allow an earned run and had three strikeouts.
The Lions pounded out eight hits on the day, including two from Devin Presnell (Boone, N.C.). Kris Torrance (P. Jefferson Station, N.Y.) contributed a solo home run, while Mike Kitt (West Islip, N.Y.) added a RBI double in the win.
C-N finished with seven hits. Senior Jeff Lockwood (Knoxville, Tenn.) led the way with two doubles, while Cody Nix (Cartersville, Ga.) produced a triple and Derek Long (Jefferson City, Tenn.) had a double.
Mars Hill jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the second as it tallied five hits and took advantage of two Eagle errors. Torrance launched a solo blast to right field to lead off the inning, while Kitt produced a RBI double. Presnell and Adam Lewis (MacClenny, Fla.) each produced a run-scoring single in the inning for the Lions.
C-N pushed across its first run in the home half of the second. Long drew a walk to get things started and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Tyler Davis (Carrollton, Ga.) to cut the Lions' lead to 5-1.
After the teams went scoreless during the next four innings, the Eagles ended the drought in the seventh. Long ripped a double to right center to lead things off. Two batters later, Nix delivered a triple to left center, scoring Long to trim Mars Hill's lead to 5-2.
C-N pulled to within 5-3 in the eighth, as Lockwood came through with a double and scored on a single to centerfield by Corey Lamson (Gray, Tenn.).
But the Lions added an insurance run in the top of the ninth, as Dalton Hardee (Boone, N.C.) scored on C-N's fourth error of the day. Searcy then retired the side in the bottom of the ninth to seal the victory.
Mars Hill head coach Dan Taylor:
Anytime you can survive and move on in any tournament, it's a beautiful thing. Kevin Searcy pitched his heart out. He threw the ball extremely well.
Carson-Newman head coach Tom Griffin:
As it was all tournament long, we just couldn't get any offense going. Ryan Fillers came in and did an excellent job on the mound and kept us in the game, but we were unable to take advantage of our opportunities at the plate.