JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – A seven-run eighth inning completed a five-run comeback as Carson-Newman earned a 12-9 victory in game one of a four-game series over Saginaw Valley State Friday afternoon at the Silver Diamond Baseball Complex.
"When you score runs like that it's not all going to be what your hitters do," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. "We were fortunate to draw some walks in 3-2 situations. The bottom part of that lineup did a good job giving us a crooked number. Being down that much and staying in it, as a coaching staff we would like to think it's because of the experience we have. I thought Robert Plohr and Gooch Greer were instrumental. They didn't let guys get into a lull. There is a lot of momentum. In college baseball, the energy you bring in the dugout can transfer onto the field."
Carson-Newman (7-9) picked up its first win in nine tries when trailing entering the eighth inning while snapping a four-game losing streak in the first ever meeting with Saginaw Valley State (0-5).
The Eagles trailed 9-6 entering the bottom of the eighth inning as Brett Langhorne (Mechanicsville, Va.) got the ball rolling with his first career collegiate home run driving a 1-2 pitch over the wall in right-center field.
"The at-bat didn't start off the way I wanted it to," Langhorne said. "I just tried to clear my mind the best I could. I was just looking for a good pitch to hit and he threw one up and in and I just got the barrel there. Our offense is very powerful. We know that we can strike four or five runs in any inning. We just have to stay within ourselves and look for good pitches to hit."
Each of the next four batters reached safely as a bases loaded walk to Cade Snapp (Seymour, Tenn.) scored Jimmy Rice (Middlesex, N.J.). Following a strikeout, Brendan Campbell (Yardley, Pa.) bounced a two-run single into center field to equalize the score. The bases were loaded with Trever Lee (Garner, N.C.) at the plate as the senior drew a seven-pitch walk to force in a run to give C-N its first lead of the day. Langhorne dug into the batter's box for the second time in the inning and shoveled a base hit through the right side of the infield to plate a pair and make it 12-9.
Derrek Clyde started the game with a single into center field on the second pitch of the day. He moved to second base on a ground out and travelled to third base on a wild pitch. Chad Carson grounded out to first base to bring home Clyde to start the scoring.
Eric Lynch (Boonton, N.J.) laced a double to the wall in the right-center field alley with one out in the bottom of the first frame. On a dropped third strike to Snapp, catcher Dan Keller unleashed a throwing error to put runners at the corners. Greg Jones (Maryville, Tenn.) hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score Lynch and tie the game at one.
With two outs in the third frame, Will Gardner (Morristown, Tenn.) hit Chad Carson. Collin Winters drove a 0-1 pitch into right field that popped out of the mitt of a leaping Lee as the ball rolled to the fence for a triple to score Carson and push the lead to 2-1.
Gardner struck out the first batter of the fourth stanza before plunking Jordan Swiss on the head. Swiss stole second base and moved to third base on a throwing error by Jones. A sacrifice fly to center field by Dan Keller expanded the lead to 3-1 for the Cardinals.
After the first two batters of the top of the fifth struck out, Gardner hit Carson on the left elbow. On a 2-1 pitch to the next batter, Collin Winters drove a fastball off of the scoreboard in right field for a two-run home run to extend the lead to 5-1.
Carson-Newman scored three in the bottom half of the fifth to close the gap to a run at 5-4. Lee hit his first career home run with a long ball over the left-field fence on a 2-2 pitch to start the inning. Langhorne snapped a 0-18 string at the plate with a bunt single up the third base line. The next two batters were retired when Mason Schwellenbach hit the next two batters to load the bases. Jones pushed a two-run single into right field to score Rice and Lynch.
The Cardinals plated four runs in the top of seventh inning extending the lead to five runs at 9-4. With a runner at each base, Carson drew a walk to push a run home. The bases were loaded when Adam Turner hit a base hit into left field. One run scored, a fielding error by Campbell allowed a second runner to cross the plate and a throw that hit Carson skipped towards C-N's dugout to send Carson across the plate.
Griffin's group put a run on the board in the seventh as Snapp was hit by a pitch with one out, moved to third on a base hit to right by Jones and scored on a fielder's choice.
Raunel Perez (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) punctuated the win by striking out the side in order in the top of the ninth to secure his second save of the year.
Langhorne led the way by going 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Jones finished the day by going 2-for-4 with three RBIs and Campbell drove in a trio.
Fitzgibbon, Craig Wilson and Winters each had a pair of hits for the Cardinals as Winters drove in four runs and scored twice.
The series continues Saturday afternoon with a doubleheader scheduled to start at noon from Mossy Creek. Broadcast coverage begins 10 minutes prior to the first pitch with "The Appalachian Electric Cooperative Countdown to First Pitch" with video and audio streams available on cneagles.com/live.
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