JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Two weeks ago in a four-game series against the Northwood (Mich.) Timberwolves, Carson-Newman pitcher Dustin Batson (Pisgah Forest, N.C.) displayed the two roles he has served for the Eagles.
During the first game of the weekend, Batson got the start on the bump for coach Tom Griffin's squad and worked 4.1 innings of two-run baseball and allowed just five hits; he threw 86 pitches during his outing but was given a no-decision in the 3-2 C-N win. During the fourth game of the series on Saturday, the Tar Heel State-native came on in relief of starting pitcher Grant Rabbitts (Johnson City, Tenn.) and worked an inning out of the bullpen where he gave up a hit and an unearned run.
Although Batson's arm was fatigued from his start on Friday, he went to the coaching staff and told them he was ready to pitch and help his team in pivotal wins after a less than ideal start to his final campaign at Mossy Creek.
"For me, I threw about 86 pitches the day before. My arm was kind of tired, but I told them that if they needed me, I was available," the senior said of his two appearances against Northwood. "I would almost rather be in relief for an inning and then start the next day, just depending on the situation. I could be a jam guy or help out any way I can."
After transferring to Carson-Newman from Catawba Valley Community College, Batson spent his first season in the Orange and Blue as a member of the bullpen in 2015. He appeared in 12 games with one start and worked 20.2 innings as Griffin's third-option out of the pen. The then-junior went 2-0 with wins over Cedarville and University of Virginia – Wise. He scattered 21 hits on 14 runs, 12 of which were earned, and struck out 18.
Besides the relief appearance the Timberwolves, Batson has been a weekend starter for C-N. The hurler has embraced his change to becoming a starter and likes the knowledge of knowing that he will get one guaranteed appearance and how it allows to prepare.
"It changes the mindset. It definitely allows me to be more prepared and know exactly when I am going to pitch and just be more mentally prepared," Batson said of becoming a starter.
He opened the season with a less-than-stellar start against the 15th-ranked North Georgia Nighthawks, although he was the team's most-efficient starter during the three-game set. He pitched 5.1 innings and gave up six earned runs on only five hits; he struck out five while walking just three. Carson-Newman went on to lose 11-3 and Batson was given his first loss of his career.
After his two appearances against the Timberwolves, the Pisgah Forest-native made his best appearance of the season against McKendree. Batson pitched his first-career complete game and issued just one run on seven hits. He was able show control of his pitches with seven strikeouts on just two walks. His lone run came on a solo home run in the sixth.
"Getting ahead, staying ahead. My defense helped me out a tremendous amount," Batson said of his performance against the Bearcats. "I didn't throw off-speed until about the seventh and eighth inning. The main thing was getting ahead and staying ahead and pound the low zone."
Batson will be on the mound to start game one of Saturday's doubleheader against the Brevard Tornados in Carson-Newman's South Atlantic Conference opening series. And the pitcher will face off against his hometown team after graduating from Brevard High in 2012.
But the senior starter is willing to do anything to help his club make the SAC Baseball Championships, which he displayed against the Timberwolves two weeks ago.
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