KODAK, Tenn. – No. 1 seed Catawba scored three unanswered runs after No. 2 seed Carson-Newman took a 2-1 lead in the seventh inning as the Indians advance to championship Monday at Smokies Stadium with a 4-2 victory to hand the Eagles their first loss of the weekend at the South Atlantic Conference Baseball Championships.
Carson-Newman (31-20) will play the winner of third-seeded Tusculum and sixth-seeded Wingate at approximately 8:15 p.m. Sunday evening in East Tennessee in an elimination game with the winner advancing to Monday to play Catawba for the title.
Carson-Newman starting pitcher Ryan Eberle (Cookeville, Tenn.) had retired seven straight batters when Zach Almond started the bottom of the fifth inning with a solo home run just over the left-field fence on a 3-2 pitch to give the Indians a 1-0 lead on his 12th dinger of the season.
After a strikeout in the top of the seventh stanza, sophomore designated hitter Austin Kearney (Powell, Tenn.) singled to center field before pinch-runner Jordan Hinshaw (Elizabethon, Tenn.) entered the game. Following a fly out to center field, junior second baseman Eric Lynch (Boonton, N.J.) laced a double down the right-field line to put runners at second and third base with two outs. Junior catcher Gooch Greer (Dickson, Tenn.) was in a 0-2 hole when he slashed a double into the right-center field double to plate a pair and give the Eagles a 2-1 advantage.
After the first two men were retired in the bottom of the seventh inning, Jake Kimble singled to left field and Dylan Richardson was intentionally walked. Luke Setzer lined a base hit over a leaping Lynch at second base into right field to score Kimble and tie the score at two.
With one out in the bottom of the eighth inning, Kyle Smith, Almond and Jeremy Simpson hit singles to load the bases. Kimble stepped to the dish and line a base hit into center field to score Smith and Almond and put the top seed ahead 4-2.
Catawba's top-five hitters in the lineup went a combined 1-for-17 while the bottom four batters went a combined 9-for-15 at the dish in the victory.
Eberle went 6.2 innings allowing two earned runs on five hits and four walks with strikeout.
The nightcap at Smokies Stadium will be broadcast at cneagles.com/live with pregame coverage beginning 10 minutes prior to first pitch on the Eagle Sports Network with audio and video streams available for free.
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