JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman picked up a 4-3 walk-off come-from-behind victory in the series finale after falling 7-5 in the first game of South Atlantic Conference action against Catawba Saturday afternoon at the Silver Diamond Baseball Complex.
The Eagles (26-18, 11-10) picked up a walk-off win for the fifth time this season, the most since at least the 2007 campaign while ending the 10-game winning streak for the Indians (27-16, 15-6) in league action.
"Those were three very good ball games," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. "They were all competitive. I think coach [Jim] Gantt and I told him this, we respect him, his program and his staff and the job they do immensely. I thought we competed well and that's what we asked our guys to do. We maintained enthusiasm and passion even though sometimes when it's 3-0, you need a spark."
Game One – Catawba 7, Carson-Newman 5
The Indians took a 4-0 lead in the top of the third inning. Jeremy Simpson singled through the left side of the infield and moved to second base on an errant pick-off throw at first base. Three batters later with two outs and Simpson at third base, Luke Setzer hit a ball deep in the hole at shortstop that he beat out to let Simpson score. The Eagles elected to intentionally walk Will Albertson to put two aboard for Chance Bowden. The first baseman drove a 1-2 pitch over the left-field wall for a three-run blast.
C-N pulled within a run in the bottom of the sixth inning at 4-3. Junior center fielder Ryan Addington (Cincinnati, Ohio) was hit by a 1-1 pitch to start the frame. Following a strikeout, senior third baseman Brandon Roberts (Davie, Fla.) singled into center field. Catawba starter Russ Weiker struck out the next batter and left a 0-1 pitch over the plate that sophomore Austing Kearney (Powell, Tenn.) launched over the fence in left field for his second home run of the season, a three-run shot.
Eagle starting pitcher Ryan Eberle (Cookeville, Tenn.) walked the first batter of the seventh inning and saw Jake Kimble reach on fielder's choice that did not see the home team record an out. Eberle induced a fly out to left field and C-N elected to go to the bullpen. Junior right-hander Raunel Perez's (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) was pushed over the right-field wall by Setzer to give the Indians a four-run lead back at 7-3.
With one out in the bottom of the eighth inning, Roberts hammered a 1-0 offering over the fence in right field for his 10th home run of the season to make it a 7-4 contest.
Junior Paul Kirby (Goodlettsville, Tenn.) and freshman Ian Pung (Knoxville, Tenn.) began the ninth inning with singles into center field to begin the bottom of the ninth inning. A fly out to right field put Kirby at third base. Senior Gooch Greer (Dickson, Tenn.) hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Kirby and make it a two-run game. Addington popped out to third base to end the contest.
Eberle (5-4) went 6.1 innings allowing six runs, three earned runs on five hits and a career-high six walks while striking out five.
Weiker (8-2) allowed three earned runs on six hits and two walks while punching out four batters.
Roberts, Kearney and Kirby each had two hits as the Eagles outhit the Indians 10-8 as Setzer led the way for the visitors with a 2-for-3 day and four RBIs.
Game Two – Carson-Newman 4, Catawba 3
Carson-Newman starter Vince Apicella (Dillsburg, Pa.) retired the first six batters of the game before walking Jeremy Simpson. The next two batters attempted sacrifice bunts that the Eagles tried to get the lead runners each time with both runners advancing safely to load the bases. Dylan Richardson picked up the first hit of the day for the visitors clanging a two-run double off of the fence in left-center field. With two outs, Bowden singled through the left side to make it a 3-0 start for the Indians.
Roberts singled back up the middle with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning. The next batter, sophomore Cade Snapp (Seymour, Tenn.), blasted a two-run home run over the fence in left field. The Indians went to the bullpen and Kearney crushed a 2-0 offering over the wall in straightaway center field to tie the score at three.
Greer slashed a single into left field and Addington followed with a bunt single to the left side of the infield. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners up a bag and the Indians elected to intentionally walked Roberts to load the bases. Snapp popped out to first base in foul territory for the second out of the inning. With a 1-2 count on Kearney, Blanton unleashed a fastball out of the reach of Albertson and back to the netting to allow the winning run to score from third base.
Apicella (8-2) limited the Indians to their fewest hits, two, in 153 games dating back to a 1-0 loss at Brevard on Feb. 16, 2014 when Catawba recorded just one hit. Overall, the senior went the distance allowing three earned runs on two hits, three walks while striking out seven.
The eighth win of the year is the fifth-most by a Carson-Newman player since 1994 (Division II era) while he matches the single-season mark with his sixth complete game of the season, matching his own mark set 2015 as well as Ben Deaton in 1998 and Brett Hontz in 2008.
Eight different players combined for the eight base knocks for the Eagles on the day.
Carson-Newman is slated to play its final home game of the 2016 campaign Tuesday at 3 p.m. as Trevecca Nazerene comes to town. The Eagle Sports Network will provide audio and video streams on cneagles.com/live beginning 10 minutes prior to first pitch.
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