Bats awaken, pitchers prevail late in Eagles’ double header sweep

VIDEO: Tom Griffin Interview

VIDEO: Brandon Roberts Interview

VIDEO: Highlights

JFEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – The Carson-Newman Eagles pounded out 15 runs on 14 hits to sweep the Northwood (Mich.) Timberwolves Saturday afternoon at the Silver Diamond Baseball Complex to take three games of the four-game set against their Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Complex.

C-N (5-5) won game one 12-6, which featured the first three-triple outing by the program since a 24-18 win over Anderson (S.C.) on Feb. 13, 2008, while the pitching staff dominated the Timberwolves (2-3) en route to a 3-2 win in the second contest.

Senior Brandon Roberts (Davie, Fla.) finished the day 4-for-7 with seven RBIs, while Hunter Wood (College Grove, Tenn.) went 2 of 3 with three runs batted-in during his game one start.

The Carson-Newman pitching staff struck out 20 Timberwolves and walked just seven batters in 16 innings.

"Yesterday, we talked about more of an approach at the plate and being aggressive and we were talking about being hunters or prey," coach Tom Griffin said. "Yesterday, we were more prey more than we were hunters. Today, we were more about attack and you watch Hunter Wood, who had a great day attacking those fastballs and getting in counts and then being aggressive in those counts.

"The pitching really stepped up. Mr. Rabbitts, our freshman pitcher, was outstanding for his college outing. Very impressive; great composure. Robert Pholr, who had been hurt, couldn't be happier for that guy; he's an energized-type person and we need him on the mound like that. (Greg) Valentine, for a young man, he doesn't sweat out there. He's got ice in the vains. He came in a big situation and I don't think his heart rate goes up very much."

Game One – Carson-Newman 12, Northwood 6

The Timberwolves opened the contest with two runs in the top of the second. Leadoff hitter Dustin Lee hit a double down the right field line; after a strike out, Apicella walked three-hole hitter Connor Foley on four-straight pitches. A groundout moved both runners ahead 90 feet. Nick Black, the Northwood designated hitter, delivered a two-out, two-run single through the right side and the Timberwolves led 2-0 through a half-inning.

Carson-Newman responded immediately. Junior center fielder Ryan Addington (Cincinnati, Ohio) led off with a triple down the right field line and he scored on a RBI single by freshman left fielder Brendan Campbell (Yardley, Pa.) to cut the lead to 2-1. Roberts stepped to the plate with Campbell on first and drilled a home run to straightaway center for his second bomb of the season and the Eagles led 3-2 after an inning.

In the bottom of the third, C-N designated hitter Cade Snapp (Seymour, Tenn.) hit his second home run in as many days with a two-run shot to left center to extend the lead to 5-2; first baseman Paul Kirby (Goodlettsville, Tenn.) had worked a two-out walk to reach first and scored on Snapp's long ball.

The Timberwolves cut the lead to one in the top of the fourth. Black led off the inning with a single past Kirby. After Apicella got a double play that erased Black from the base paths, the senior hurler issued a two-out walk. After missing on a 2-2 backdoor breaking pitch, Ben Balgaard delivered a two-run bomb to left center and sliced the lead to 5-4.

C-N answered Northwood in the bottom half of the fourth. After a groundout opened the inning, second baseman Joey Selitto (Newton, N.J.) was hit by a pitch, Addington walked and Campbell both walked to load the bases for Roberts. The Floridian delivered a bases-clearing, three-run triple down the right field line to push the lead to 8-4. Kirby doubled home Roberts for his first-career RBI in the Orange and Blue and the lead was 9-4. Snapp worked a walk on nine pitches and set the table for Wood; he laced a 0-1 pitch over the scoreboard in right field for his first-career home run and the Eagles led 12-4 through four complete.

Northwood loaded the bases with two outs of relief pitcher Philip Pardue (Knoxville, Tenn.). Black picked up two more RBI with a bloop single to left center to cut the lead to 12-6.

Roberts ended the first game 3-for-5 with five RBIs and a double shy of the cycle. He was the first batter to tally five RBIs since Bo Ausmus against Winston Salem State last season.

Apicella ended the day with six innings of four seven work to pick up his second win. He struck out eight and walked three. Logan Meadors took the loss after pitching 3.1 innings; he gave up nine runs, all earned, on seven hits. He struck out five and walked three.

Game Two – Carson-Newman 3, Northwood 2

Roberts opened the second game of the double header the same way he did the first contest. Freshman Ian Pung (Knoxville, Tenn.) singled to reach base with one away in the bottom of the first. Roberts worked a 1-2 count when he drove a breaking ball that hung in the zone over the left field wall for his second home run of the day and the Eagles led 2-0 through an inning.

Northwood pulled back a run in the fourth. The Timberwolves got back-to-back singles to lead off the inning that put runners on the corners for third baseman Daniel Pulver. Pulver placed a ball over the glove of Kirby at first to score Cody Kuzniczci

The Eagles responded in the bottom of the fifth. Junior catcher Greg Jones (Maryville, Tenn.) was hit by a pitch with one out. After a strikeout, Campbell hit a RBI double to left center to score Jones from first and the Carson-Newman lead was extended to 3-1.

The Timberwolves cut the lead in half in the top of the sixth. Pulver tripled to right center with two outs; a fielding error by Campbell in left field allowed Pulver to score from third and Northwood trailed 3-2 after five and a half innings.

Freshman Grant Rabbitts (Johnson City, Tenn.) worked five-plus innings in his first-career start and allowed six hits and one earned run; he struck out five and did not issue a walk. The C-N bullpen came on in relief of Rabbitts and pitched four innings and allowed just one unearned run. Senior Dustin Batson (Pisgah Forest, N.C.) relieved Rabbitts in the sixth and allowed the unearned run.

Junior Robert Plohr (O'Fallon, Mo.) pitched two innings in his first-career appearance. The transfer struck out three and issued three walks. Freshman Greg Valentine (Knoxville, Tenn.) worked a one-hit ninth inning and struck out the side to pick up his first-career save.

Rabbitts picked up the win in his first-career appearance. Northwood starter Kyle Vedrode picked 4.2 innings and allowed three runs for his first loss of 2016.

Campbell led the Eagles' offense in the second game with a 2-for-3 effort with a RBI.

The Eagles hit the road for a midweek contest at Abbey Yard in Belmont, N.C. to face the Belmont Abbey Crusaders. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. The game will be broadcasted on the Eagle Sports Network with the pregame show beginning at 1:50 p.m.

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