GAFFNEY, S.C. – Carson-Newman opened its 2016 season with a 5-4 loss to Limestone at Founders Federal Credit Union Stadium Tuesday afternoon. The setback is the seventh straight defeat the Eagles have suffered on the Saints' home field dating back to an 8-2 win on April 2, 2008.
"That's a good club," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. "It's a veteran club. You can't give freebies and there were two plays in the infield that cost us a run. You have to take care of the baseball. Offensively, we didn't do a very good job early on adjusting our swing but I thought later in the game we got those two out hits. We have some things we can build upon."
Limestone right fielder Garrett Lowery led off the bottom of the second inning with a long home run over the 28-foot high left field fence to make it a 1-0 game.
Carson-Newman did not have a hit entering the fifth inning when with one out junior shortstop Jimmy Rice (Middlesex, N.J.) reached on an infield single. Two batters later redshirt-freshman left fielder Brendan Campbell (Yardley, Pa.) laced his first career hit to left field to put two runners on base. A wild pitch advanced the duo into scoring position. Senior third basemen Brandon Roberts (Davie, Fla.) hit a ground ball to the second basemen Austin Marcellus who threw the ball away and allowed both runs to score and put the Eagles ahead 2-1.
Lowery tied the score in the bottom of the sixth with a line-drive base hit to right field squaring the contest at two.
Rice and Campbell once again set the table in the top of the seventh with singles. With two outs, Roberts laced a double to left field to plate both runners and put the Eagles ahead 4-2.
Limestone tied the score at four in the bottom of the seventh inning with three straight one-out hits capped by a two-run double by Dillon Palencia.
Lowery reached on an error by Roberts to begin the last of the eighth inning. A sacrifice bunt put Lowery in scoring position. A fielder's choice moved him to third base where he scored on a throw that sailed past junior catcher Greg Jones (Maryville, Tenn.) to give the Saints a 5-4 edge.
In the top of the ninth inning, Carson-Newman put two runners on with two outs. Junior center fielder Ryan Addington (Cincinnati, Ohio) launched a fly ball to right field that Lowery tracked down to close out the contest.
Carson-Newman starting pitcher Ryan Eberle (Cookeville, Tenn.) threw a career-high 6.1 innings while striking out a career-high eight batters in a no-decision.
"Ryan Eberle was above-and-beyond what you would expect from a starter on his first game of the year," Griffin said. "We were hoping for five [innings]. He was outstanding. Him and [catcher Greg] Jones were on the same page, mixing things up. All three pitches were effective."
Rice and Campbell combined for four of the six hits for the Eagles as the visiting group stranded seven runners on base.
Carson-Newman plays its first weekend series of the year beginning Friday in Dahlonega, Ga. against North Georgia at 3 p.m. Matthew Osborne will be with the Eagles providing audio commentary on cneagles.com/live beginning at 2:50 p.m.
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