JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – To conclude its longest road sequence of the year of eight games, Carson-Newman ventures to 24th-ranked Wingate for a three-game series starting Friday evening at 6 p.m. before wrapping up with a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
The Bulldogs are tied for first place and the Eagles sit in second place in the South Atlantic Conference standings as each team is among the higher scoring and better pitching crews in the league.
In the last nine games, the Eagles have six games with at least 10 knocks while tallying four, two and four in the other three. When posting double-digit hits in a game, the team is 13-5 compared to just 5-8 when failing to crest 10 pokes having lost five straight outings. The last time the team won a game with 10 or fewer hits came in a 6-5 triumph against Catawba on March 9 in the opening game of the series.
"The mindset is much different when they are staked to a 3, 4-0 lead versus playing catch up," Carson-Newman said Tom Griffin said of how it impacts the pitching staff. "We know going to Wingate that it is a tough place to play. We think that it's going to be a dog fight all the way until the end. They do play very well at home. They have a very good club."
While Wingate (26-8, 11-4) holds the all-time series lead of 49-43, Carson-Newman (18-13, 10-5) has won each of the last four meetings. A win on Friday night would match the second-longest streak for the Eagles in the all-time series doing so from 2000-01 and 2008-09. The longest stretch came over a seven-game sequence from 1999-2001.
The Bulldogs are 25-19 on their home field in the all-time matchups having won each of the last three series between the two clubs at Ron Christopher Stadium. C-N last took a series on April 1-2, 2011 when it captured two out three.
In 2017, Griffin's group swept a three-game set in Jefferson City marking the first sweep over the Bulldogs scoring 29 runs in an offensive-fueled weekend series.
Wingate has the fourth-best winning percentage of teams playing in the Southeast Region while only three teams in America have more wins overall on the year than its 25. Having won seven of the last eight, the Bulldogs are 19-3 inside of the friendly confines in 2018. Only Erskine has produced more victories at home with 21.
Offensively, the team is one of the higher scoring teams in the league at just south of eight on the year pounding out the sixth-most hits in the nation on the season while hammering 41 home runs, first in the league and 10th in Division II.
Tanner Forry, a junior transfer from Harford Community College, leads the league in home runs with 12 on the year, sixth in the country, as he launched a long ball in each game of the three-game set against Mars Hill on March 9-10. He leads the nation in runs scored with 42.
The pitching staff for Jeff Gregory is punching out the fewest batters per nine innings in SAC play at 6.51 on the season but it has yielded the fewest dingers at six on the year through 15 conference outings.
Austin Turgeon is the reigning SAC Pitcher of the Week after tossing eight scoreless innings in the series finale against Lenoir-Rhyne with six strikeouts while giving up three hits and a walk. In 16 1/3 innings in league play, the right-hander has allowed three earned runs and struck out 18.
"There is offensive firepower," Griffin assessed. "There are arms that are veteran arms that have been there and done that. Every weekend is tough but there are some pieces in the puzzle over there that make it a little more challenging."
The only spot that Wingate is below average in terms of stats on the year is fielding percentage ranking ninth in SAC play with a .946 fielding percentage. In the first 12 contests of the year, the team did not commit a miscue five times compared to just two errorless outings in the last 22 games.
All three games over the weekend will be available through an audio stream on cneagles.com/live as the Eagle Sports Network will hit the airwaves starting 10 minutes prior to first pitch.
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