JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Looking for their first win at Pioneer Park in Greeneville, Tenn. since March 13, 2010, the Carson-Newman Eagles (9-3, 4-2 South Atlantic Conference) take on the Tusculum Pioneers (5-4, 3-2 SAC) in a three-game series. Game one is scheduled for Friday evening at 6 p.m. with a doubleheader tallied for a first pitch in game one at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
The last time the Eagles defeated the Pioneers at Pioneer Park Carson-Newman swept a doubleheader in which they outscored Tusculum 19-11. The losing streak in Greeneville, Tenn. is seven games.
"We have a great relationship with Tusculum," head coach Tom Griffin said of the upcoming weekend. "I know it's a rivalry game to some people. It's a fun game to play. As competitive as it is, it's a fun game because I think both teams respect each other."
The Eagles, ranked seventh in the Southeast Region regional rankings, are currently first in the conference tied with Mars Hill. The Pioneers, ranked ninth in the region, are in a three-way tie with Wingate and Lincoln Memorial for third place in the league entering play this weekend.
Carson-Newman is coming off of a 6-3 win over Limestone Tuesday afternoon at the Silver Diamond Baseball Complex where six different players collected hits and five different Eagles scored at a run.
Junior left fielder Bo Ausmus (Jefferson City, Tenn.) is riding a nine-game hitting streak where he is 14-for-33 (.424) after starting the season 1-for-12 at the plate. The preseason second-team All-SAC selection has 96 career hits as a member of Griffin's group entering this weekend.
It will be a battle between the two top pitching staffs in the conference as Carson-Newman leads the league with a 2.65 ERA compared to Tusculum's 2.74 ERA. The glaring difference between the two sides is the fact that the Eagles have walked 31 batters, ninth in the SAC, while Tusculum has been the most efficient issuing just 18 bases on balls this year.
"They have always been exceptional on the mound," Griffin said of the Tusculum pitching staff. "Our staff has done very well. Coach [Blake] Herring and the pitchers we've used have had success. On paper, it's two good pitching staffs, but there is enough offense on both sides."
Tusculum is coming off of a 19-10 victory over North Greenville as every starter recorded at least one hit in the contest. Freshman outfielder Cody Andreychuk went 4-for-4 with a three-run home run and five RBIs as he reached base safely in all six plate appearances.
Senior first basemen Heath Comerford leads the team in hitting with a .393 batting average to go along with a home run, eight RBIs and four doubles.
The Pioneers enter the weekend ranked tenth out of 11 teams in the league with a .953 fielding percentage and have allowed the fewest earned runs in the conference with 21 this year.
In 2013, the Eagles swept the Pioneers in Jefferson City in a series that saw Tusculum commit 14 total errors including a pair of six-error contests. Friday's starting pitcher, junior right-hander Quinton Yocom (Cable, Ohio), hurled 6.1 innings of one run baseball in a 2-1 victory in the series finale. One of Saturday's starter, senior right-hander Dustin Dunagan, tossed the final 0.2 innings to earn the save in the game.
Overall, Carson-Newman leads the all-time series 42-34. The 42 wins are the second-most against an opponent in program history behind the 48 victories over Lenoir-Rhyne.
"A lot of these guys know each other," Griffin said of the proximity of the two schools. "They have several kids from East Tennessee. Some of these guys have played summer ball. If the weather is good, it is usually attended pretty well."
An audio stream will be available for each game this weekend by visiting cneagles.com/live with pregame coverage beginning on the Eagle Sports Network ten minutes prior to the first pitch of each game.