JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – To open South Atlantic Conference play, Carson-Newman hits the road to face Newberry for a three-game series looking to find consistency on the road in 2018. Game one is slated for 6 p.m. Friday with a doubleheader on Saturday starting at 1 p.m.
Griffin's group is coming off of a season where it went 3-16 in road games and came up empty in 11 tries in SAC away outings. The pitching staff's ERA rose three runs on the road and the team's batting average was 56 points lower a season ago. The last SAC road win for C-N came in the final series of 2016 when the Eagles swept Tusculum.
"I do think there are certain changes we had," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. "We haven't really focused on the fact that we are away because we have been away already this year. There are some guys here that don't even know what happened last year. It's really irrelevant in how we are going to go about our business."
Catawba snapped a five-game winning streak for Carson-Newman (7-4) in SAC openers in a 10-7 victory on Feb. 24, 2017 as the last loss in a league cork popper for the Eagles came on Feb. 18, 2011 in a 3-2 11-inning loss at Newberry. The Indians swept the series handing the Eagles their first season-opening sweep in a SAC series since the Wolves took all three in that 2011 series. This season is the third straight year that C-N has opened conference play on the road.
C-N and Newberry (4-6) have met 70 times prior to this weekend's series as the Eagles hold a 46-24 lead but are just 10-16 at the Smith Road Complex. Newberry has swept the last two three-game sets at played on its campus and has won seven straight since C-N last won on April 6, 2013, an 8-1 triumph for the Eagles. Griffin's group took two out of three in that series.
After three losses in the regular season, the Eagles won when it mattered most in an elimination game of the SAC Baseball Championships on April 30. With C-N down 4-2 in the sixth, a Paul Kirby grand slam aided a six-run sixth as the Eagles overpowered the Wolves 12-5.
"Coach Triplett and his staff are unbelievable," Griffin stated. "If I were an AD and had to hire a coach and I had five names he would be one of them. It's a class act on the field and off of the field. They come to the park, strap it on and play the game."
Newberry enters the weekend after a win snapped a four-game losing streak and is sporting just a 3-4 record at home this season. The Wolves were at least eight games over .500 inside of the friendly confines over the last five campaigns since a 14-13 mark during the 2012 season.
Keeping with tradition, coach Russell Triplett's team is one of the most difficult to strikeout in the league this year with the second-fewest in the SAC at under seven per game. C-N's pitching staff leads the conference in K's per nine innings with nearly 12 per ball game.
After stealing 80 bases a year ago to rank second in the SAC, Newberry has taken just 13 bags on the year while being caught seven times. No player has more than two on the year.
In 2017, the Wolves were one of the top pitching staffs in the division but this year only one team has a worse team ERA than the team's 6.42 due partly to 57 walks in 88 1/3 innings pitched.
The defense has not wavered as the unit leads the league in fielding percentage with a .981 clip making just seven errors in 10 games while turning 13 double plays. It had four gold glove winners last season.
Dalton Landsdowne is fifth in the SAC in batting average at .414 with three multi-hit games in his last four contests going 8-for-14 at the plate with five runs scored a three RBIs.
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