JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – A perennial power in the country, Catawba comes to the Silver Diamond Baseball Complex for a three-game series against first-place Carson-Newman in a three-game series in South Atlantic Conference action.
Friday will see a pair of outings beginning at noon with a nine-inning game followed by a seven-inning affair. Saturday will conclude the series with a noon first pitch.
"If you look over the years it's kind of like the New York Yankees," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. "Jim Gantt is a big Yankees fan. Everything they do is kind of like the New York Yankees. Jim is one of the best coaches in all of baseball, not just Division II. All you have to do is look at the organization and the culture he has over there. It is second to none. They do things exactly the right way."
In four home series in league play a year ago, C-N picked up two sweeps en route to winning all four three-game sets going 10-2 at home in SAC play in 2017. Since 2010, the Eagles have won six of the eight opening home SAC series going 16-8 in the first home set played at the SDBC. The series losses came in 2010 when 25th-ranked Lincoln Memorial took two out of three and in 2016 when Mars Hill swept the three-game slate.
Carson-Newman (13-6, 5-1) and Catawba (8-12, 4-2) have played 102 games since the 1990 season with the Indians holding a 60-42 advantage that includes a 27-17 mark in Jefferson City including wins in 11 of the last 14 at the SDBC since 2009. The only time the Eagles have been victorious in that stretch came when the club took two out of three on Feb. 6-7 in Jefferson City during a campaign that Catawba reached the national title game.
The two programs played five times in 2017 as Catawba won each of the first four by a combined score of 45-17 but Griffin's group picked up an important victory in the final elimination game of the 2017 SAC Baseball Championships on April 13 by a score of 13-8, winning its third straight elimination game to reach Championship Monday.
C-N scored in seven of the nine innings going 7-for-18 with runners in scoring position to take a 13-8 win over No. 15 Catawba and eliminate the regular season champions. It scored its most runs against Catawba since a 19-6 triumph over the 14th-ranked Indians on April 18, 2004 at Mossy Creek.
Seven different Eagles had multi-hit efforts as Greg Jones went 3-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored and Cade Snapp drove in three with a pair of hits and two runs scored.
The Eagles used six pitchers in the game as Hunter Dodson improved to 3-0 earning the victory while Ryan Eberle picked up his first save of his career tossing the final 3 1/3 innings.
The five-time reigning regular-season titleholders, Catawba, was once again picked to win the league with nine of the 10 first-place votes holding off the tournament champs, Lincoln Memorial for the top spot.
The Indians are in an unfamiliar spot having lost 12 games on the year for a program that has lost no more than 21 in an entire season over the last 15 years and have two 20-loss campaigns during that stretch.
"They tend to [struggle early in the year]," Griffin stated. "All of a sudden at the end of the year, there is 38 to 40 wins – that's just who they are. This is a good test for us at home to see where we are at. We felt like that with anyone that we played."
After dropping the hammer on Coker in the first series outscoring the Cobras 57-10, Lenoir-Rhyne captured two of three against Catawba as the Indians mustered eight runs in the series.
At the plate, Catawba is second to Belmont Abbey in the country in walks with 116 on the season hammering 23 long balls on the year. 2017 SAC Player of the Year is hitting just .279 on the year but has six homers, second in the SAC. Kyle Smith's 25 RBIs are second in the league as he has knocks in all but three games.
The pitching staff features four of the top 12 strikeout artists in the league but the unit is seventh in the conference with a 5.98 team ERA giving up nearly 10 hits per night. Riley Myers is the team's Friday starter having allowed two earned runs over his last three starts in 20 1/3 innings on the mound with 23 punch outs.
All of the games will have audio and video streams available on cneagles.com/live starting 10 minutes before first pitch of each contest on the Eagle Sports Network.
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