GAFFNEY, S.C. – In a pair of tight affairs, Limestone proved clutch with a pair of walk-victories over Carson-Newman Friday evening at Founders FCU Stadium on the first day of the 2018 season.
"I thought we pitched it well enough throughout the day to give us a chance to win," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. "It was good to see our guys respond to being behind and come back to take leads. The bottom line is we struck out too much – not putting balls in play. Defensively, we gave them some extra at-bats that we need to clean up for tomorrow."
Ryan Williams provided a walk-off double in game one and Matt Orth cranked a walk-off dinger to cap a pair of comebacks and give Limestone (2-0) a flawless start to the series with Carson-Newman (0-2).
Colby Morgan (Hixson, Tenn.) paced the offense going 6-for-8 on the day with three extra-base hits while Brett Langhorne (Mechiancsville, Va.) did a little bit of everything with four hits, two walks, two RBIs and three stolen bases.
On the rubber, game two starter Dalton Long (Powell, Tenn.) dazzled with 10 strikeouts in six innings of work using five different hurlers.
The day continues a recent string of unluckiness to open the season as the Eagles have lost on opening day in eight of the last nine years with the lone triumph in that span coming on Feb. 1, 2014.
Game One: LIMESTONE 9, Carson-Newman 8
Defensive miscues allowed Limestone to get on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first inning. Channing Painton doubled to start the game. Zach Piazza hit a fly ball to shallow center field that was misplayed by Tyler Thompson (Gallatin, Tenn.) for an error to put men at second and third base. Dillon Cate (Sevierville, Tenn.) notched a strikeout and a line out. With two out, Chase Allen hit a sky-high pop up behind the first base bag that was dropped by Morgan to give the Saints a 2-0 lead.
The Eagles pulled even at two in the top of the third inning. Cal Smith (Kellar, Texas) singled with one out. The junior swiped second base and moved to third on a throwing error. Ethan Goforth (Blacksburg, Va.) won an 11-pitch at-bat by depositing a 3-2 offering over the 25-foot high fence in left field for his first-career home run.
Limestone wasted no time regaining the edge. Zach Piazza led off the bottom of the third with a single on a misplayed blooper up the first base line. Two pitches later, Matt Orth send a ball into orbit that cleared the right-field fence just to the center field side of the scoreboard to make it a 4-2 contest.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Saints loaded the bases with one out. A throwing error by shortstop John Sharpe (Franklin, Tenn.) allowed a run to score to expand the bulge to 5-2. Greg Valentine (Knoxville, Tenn.) came out of the bullpen and struck out a pair to leave the bases loaded.
Carson-Newman gained the upper hand in the top of the seventh stanza. Sharpe ignited the rally with a base hit to left field. Morgan roped a ball to right field to score Sharpe as the rookie motored to third with a triple. A fielding error at shortstop brought home Morgan to tie the score. Langhorne slapped a base hit through the left side of the infield to bring home Thompson and give the Eagles their first advantage at 6-5.
To start the bottom of the seventh, Piazza bashed a long ball onto the grass in left field to knot the score at six. For a second straight frame, a lead-off home run began the inning. In the eighth, Ryan Williams launched a long ball to right to make it a 7-6 contest.
Morgan slashed a double into the gap in right-center with one out in the top of the ninth inning. A throwing error and a wild pitch put runners at first and third with one out. Micah Genter (Jasper, Tenn.) hit a bouncer back to the mound. The throw home was late and the score was tied.
The next batter, Langhorne, struck once again with a solid single into right field to plate Thompson and put the Eagles on top 8-7.
Piazza started the bottom of the ninth by drawing a base on balls. A wild pitch and base hit to left field put runners at the corners with one out. Chase Allen hit a fly ball to left field that hit the ground to score the tying run. Williams followed with a double to the wall in right to give the Saints a walk-off victory.
Langhorne and Morgan powered the offense with four hits each as C-N outhit Limestone 15-12. The Saints committed four errors and the Eagles were charged with three in the game.
Will Gardner (Morristown, Tenn.) took the loss on the rubber as one of three pitchers to hurl for C-N on the day. The senior went 1 2/3 allowing three earned runs on five hits.
Limestone was led by Piazza who went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs knocked in and four runs scored in the game.
Eric Mullinax was given the win for the Saints as he twirled two innings of two-run baseball as one of the four pitchers used by the Saints on the day.
Game Two: LIMESTONE 4, Carson-Newman 3 – 8 innings
The Eagles opened the scoring in the top of the third inning with a pair of runs. There were two runners on with two outs for Goforth. The catcher lofted a base hit into shallow center to score Langhorne and Genter.
Trace Whetsell tallied the first hit of the game for Limestone in the bottom of the third, a double to right center. He came around to score on a base knock to left field by Ryan Creps to pull the Saints within one at 2-1.
The first two men of the bottom of the sixth doubled as Painton was thrown out going to third base. After a punch out, Allen lined a single to left field to tie the score. Three pitches later, Williams laced a double to right field to score Allen and put the Saints on top for the first time in the game.
Langhorne opened the top of the seventh with a walk and a stolen base. With one out and men at the corners, Goforth chopped a ball to short to score Langhorne and tie the score at three.
With one out in the bottom of the eighth inning, Orth cranked a walk-off long ball down the right-field line to seal a doubleheader sweep.
Long went six innings allowing three earned runs on seven hits while recording 10 strikeouts.
Morgan went 2-for-3 and Goforth drove in a trio of teammates. Genter made the most of his first career start going 2-for-4 with a stolen base and a run scored.
Limestone finished the game with nine hits, one from each player in the starting lineup as four different players scored a run.
To close out the opening weekend, the Eagles play Limestone at 10 a.m. Saturday and conclude with a contest against Pfeiffer at 4 p.m. Live stats and video are available courtesy of the Limestone Sports Information group.
- CN -