JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman baseball celebrates the five seniors on its roster this weekend with a three-game series against Catawba at the Silver Diamond Baseball Complex. The quintet will be honored at 2:30 p.m. Friday afternoon prior to a 3 p.m. first pitch with the series wrapping up with a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at noon.
Pitchers Vince Apicella (Dillsburg, Pa.), Dustin Batson (Pisgah Forest, N.C.) and Philip Pardue (Knoxville, Tenn.), third baseman Brandon Roberts (Davie, Fla.) and outfielder Mitch Trzeciak (Charlotte, Mich.) will play their final South Atlantic Conference home series this weekend.
"I think with any guy that graduates it's tough," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. "It's guys who have invested a lot of time. You are so appreciative of the time you have had to put in and put up with everything that we put them through. All of these guys are different and have different roles. Not every one of them were starters and played every day yet they still went through the process."
The series will showcase two of the top three defensive units in the league but Carson-Newman (25-16, 10-8) has committed 21 errors in its last nine games after recording 29 miscues in its first 32 contests of the year.
"One thing we try to do is more drill work," Griffin said. "There is no magic formula but we believe going into our drill series simplifies the idea of catching the ball. We try to do more lead-up drills. We try to just break it down and simplify it."
Catawba (25-15, 13-5) holds the upper hand in the all-time series history 47-33 including a 22-13 mark since Griffin took over in 2006 while winning the regular-season series seven times during that span.
The Eagles won two out of three games in the series in 2007, 2008 and 2015 during that time and have won the series eight times since 1990 with the lone sweep in the 26 seasons since 1990 coming in 1996.
In 2015, C-N won the first two games by a run 5-4 and 1-0 before falling in the series finale 6-3. It marked the first win by Carson-Newman over Catawba at home since Feb. 24, 2008 when the Eagles won 3-2.
Vince Apicella (Dillsburg, Pa.) allowed just five base runners (three hits and two walks) while striking out 13 Indians in the middle game of the series as he earned the SAC Pitcher of the Week honors for his complete-game shutout.
Catawba is the reigning national runners-up falling to eight-time national champion Tampa 3-1 in the program's first trip ever to a national title contest. The Indians have won the last three league regular season titles and enter the weekend with a two-game lead on Tusculum.
Entering the weekend, coach Jim Gantt's group has won eight straight league games but was swept by Tampa in the Sunshine State last weekend.
Offense has been a major calling card for Catawba this season as the unit has scored the most runs (167) in SAC games in 2016. In terms of Division II rankings, the Indians rank second in home runs (59), fourth in total runs scored (348), fourth in doubles (96), sixth in hits (457) and sixth in walks (194).
Senior catcher Will Albertson was the nation's top hitter in 2015 and ranks fifth nationally in hits (68) and second in the league in batting average (.427). Albertson was a 40th round selection by the New York Yankees in last year's draft becoming the 13th Catawba player in the last eight years to be drafted.
Sophomore Chance Bowden is the nation's leader in doubles in 2016 with 25 while ranking 22nd nationally with 61 base knocks
The pitching staff has been at the opposite end of the spectrum for much of the season ranking ninth in the league with a team ERA of 6.30 while giving up 26 home runs in the SAC games, the second-most in the league.
All three games will have an audio and a video stream available for free by visiting cneagles.com/live as the Eagle Sports Network provides broadcast coverage beginning 10 minutes prior to first pitch.
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