JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Having lost eight straight games to Lincoln Memorial, Carson-Newman makes the short jaunt to Harrogate for a three-game series looking to maintain its spot on top of the South Atlantic Conference standings starting Friday at 4 p.m. The weekend is slated to conclude on Saturday with a twin-bill at 1 p.m.
"What we are going to see at LMU is a very good ball club," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin stated. "A veteran club that has had a lot of success. Good starters with a veteran lineup. We can only control our thoughts and our emotions. If we get too far ahead of ourselves we are going to run into problems in the mental part of the game."
Carson-Newman (17-10, 9-3) is six games over .500, 9-3, in conference play for the first time since March 9, 2013 when the unit began the season 9-1 against SAC foes. That Eagle group faltered down the stretch finishing the season 4-13 in SAC outings and 13-14 overall.
This weekend's series is a rematch of the 2017 SAC Baseball Championships title round as the two clubs have met 63 times entering play. The Railsplitters hold a 32-31 edge in the meetings and have won eight straight against C-N. The last win for the Eagles came at Mossy Creek on March 1, 2014 while the last triumph in Harrogate came on March 30, 2013 by a run.
Since Lincoln Memorial (18-9, 5-7) joined the SAC in 2007, Carson-Newman has won just one road series in four tries registering a 5-8 record in that stretch despite holding a 16-14 all-time lead in Harrogate.
In 2017, the 'Splitters outscored the Eagles 40-16 over four games clinching the SAC Tournament title with a 9-4 victory on May 1 thanks to seven C-N errors while sweeping a three-game set on Lamar Hennon Field.
Brett Langhorne (Mechiancsville, Va.) paced the offense for Griffin's group among returners with a home run and five hits in 14 at-bats while Logan Augustine's 7-for-16 and Tyler Adams going 8-for-14 led the LMU offense.
"LMU is not the only team that we have struggled against over the years," Griffin reflected. "Every year is different. You have to get them ready in practice and in training. More than anything it is the kids playing the game. We get them prepared in training but when the game starts it's their ball game."
LMU lost two out of three to Newberry last weekend on the road producing a total of four runs, its lowest ever in a three-game SAC series mustering just one run in the Saturday doubleheader. The team is just 5-7 on the road in 2018.
However, only six teams in America have won more home outings this season as the Railsplitters are 13-2 in Harrogate this season. To put those numbers in perspective, LMU is hitting .379 at home compared to .261 on the road this year while averaging 11 runs per game. On the mound, the team's ERA is two runs better at 3.12 in 15 games giving up eight dingers compared to 17 in 12 road contests.
Overall from an offensive standpoint, LMU holds one of the best in the country in almost every category. The Railsplitters are fifth in the nation in walks (135) and hits (293) while averaging the 11th-most runs per game at nine.
Adams leads the SAC in hitting this season with a .398 batting average with 14 doubles, good for second in the nation. He and Augustine have scored 32 runs each to rank 11th in Division II.
As a unit, the pitching staff has the best ERA in the conference thanks to Ethan Elliott (2.58) and Joe Bobiak (2.79) placing second and fourth respectively in the SAC. Elliott last 3 1/3 innings in his only start against the Eagles a year ago scattering five hits and two walks while giving up two earned runs. He is tied with C-N hurler Dillon Cate for the league lead in punch outs on the year with 59.
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