KODAK, Tenn. – Carson-Newman scored 10 runs in its final three at-bats including a six-run sixth inning in a 12-5 victory over Newberry in the South Atlantic Conference Baseball Championships Sunday evening at Smokies Stadium.
The Eagles play No. 1 seed Catawba at 8:30 p.m. Sunday evening for the right to play in the championship round Monday afternoon.
"It all starts with your upperclassmen," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. "They have to buy into the culture and the environment. They have to provide the mindset for the club. The coaches don't play. The players play. They have to believe in themselves and believe in each other."
Carson-Newman (28-23) is now 7-3 all-time against Newberry (32-21) in the conference tournament as Griffin's group avenges a series sweep from the Wolves during the regular season.
Robert Kosch hit the third pitch of the game, a 1-1, down the left-field line for a double. A pair of ground outs to the right side of the infield brought home Kosch to put Newberry on top 1-0.
The first offering of the bottom of the first inning plunked Ryan Addington (Cincinnati, Ohio) in the back as the senior moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Eric Lynch (Boonton, N.J.). Paul Kirby (Goodlettsville, Tenn.) hit a rocket back up the middle for a base hit to score Addington to tie the game at one. The Eagles loaded the bases with two outs but Trever Lee (Gardner, N.C.) struck out to end the threat.
Brendan Campbell (Yardley, Pa.) drew a walk leading off the bottom of the second inning. The left fielder advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt and to third base on a wild pitch. Addington found a hole on the right side of the infield to score Campbell and give C-N a 2-1 lead.
With one out and the bases loaded in the top of the fourth inning, Jeff Sneed laced a single into left field to score a pair of runners and put the Wolves back on top 3-2.
The lead stretched to 4-2 in the top of the sixth inning as Cody Ezzell hit a blooper into right field that Lynch could not come up with as Sneed scored.
Carson-Newman batted around in the bottom of the sixth inning scoring six times to turn the two-run deficit into a four-run lead. With two on and two outs, Barrett Walton walked Addington to load the bases and issued a free pass to Lynch to plate a run. Kirby stood in and launched a 0-1 pitch onto the concourse in left-center field for his second grand slam of the season to give the Eagles the lead. Hunter Hill entered out of the bullpen and on his first pitch Greg Jones (Maryville, Tenn.) clobbered a home run down the right-field line to make it an 8-4 advantage.
"Coach told me to be smart down the line," Kirby said. "He said take one because [the pitcher] had just walked a kid. I took one and got my timing on that pitch. The next pitch was right there and I hit it and it was great. I'm so glad I could do that for all of my brothers and the seniors to keep us playing."
The two clubs exchanged sacrifice flies in the bottom of the seventh and the top of the eighth to make it a 9-5 affair.
The Eagles added three more runs with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Brett Langhorne (Mechiancsville, Va.), Lee and Campbell hit RBI singles in succession to add insurance and put the club ahead 12-5.
Raunel Perez (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) picked up his fourth win of the year hurling 3 2/3 one-run innings of baseball with one punch out and three hits allowed.
Jones led the way with four hits while Kirby went 2-for-5 with five RBIs. Langhorne and Lee each had three hits and Campbell added a pair.
Sneed had four of Newberry's 10 hits on the day driving in a pair of runs and scoring one. The Wolves used five pitchers as each allowed at least two on the day. Walton took his first loss of the season not retiring a batter.
The game will be aired on the Eagle Sports Network on cneagles.com/live with audio and video streams available for spectators starting at 8:15 p.m.
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