Resourceful Eagles take down #24 Bulldogs behind Cate, Gardner

VIDEO: Tom Griffin Interview

Box Score

WINGATE, N.C. – Carson-Newman scored in six of the nine innings as No. 24 Wingate committed six errors to beat the Bulldogs 7-4 in South Atlantic Conference action Friday night at Ron Christopher Stadium. Dillon Cate and Will Gardner combined to strike out 14 batters in the game.

"Once you get a certain guy on the mound," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin dissected. "Your team gets a sense of confidence. It's just the way it is. They earn that because of the way that they pitched. [Cate] has done that in every start since he's been at Carson-Newman."

It was the fifth straight win for Carson-Newman (19-13, 11-5) over Wingate (26-9, 11-5) matching the second-longest streak for the Eagles in the all-time series doing so from 2000-01 and 2008-09.

"The bottom part of our lineup did a great job," Griffin stated. "We executed every bunt to put men in scoring position. We had some guys come up with big hits – whether it was sac flies or hard ground balls to put pressure on their defense. Our bench did a great job today. There was good energy."

The Eagles swung at the first two pitches of the game as Brett Langhorne (Mechiancsville, Va.) reached on an error at shortstop and moved to third base as John Sharpe (Franklin, Tenn.) doubled past a diving third baseman. Cade Snapp (Seymour, Tenn.) grounded out to shortstop to open the scoring.

After the lead-off man was retired in the bottom of the first, McCann Mellett smacked a 2-1 offering over the fence in right-center field for his third home run of the year to tie the score at one.

With two outs in the top of the second stanza, Jordan Griffin (Ellersie, Ga.) fell behind 0-1 before depositing a fastball over the wall in left-center field and into the Wingate bullpen to give C-N the lead back at 2-1.

Colby Morgan (Hixson, Tenn.) hit a roller up along third with two outs in the fourth frame. Pitcher Hunter Morgan scooped it up and threw low and offline to first allowing Morgan to scoot over to second base. Griffin delivered again with two outs pushing a 2-2 pitch into center field past the diving effort of shortstop Brett Branton to score Morgan and extend the margin to 3-1.

To ignite the top of the sixth, Ethan Goforth (Blacksburg, Va.) ripped a double that bounced inside of the left-field line and into the corner. A sacrifice bunt by Brendan Campbell (Yardley, Pa.) and a sacrifice fly by Tyler Thompson (Gallatin, Tenn.) plated Goforth to make it a 4-1 game.

Carson-Newman continued to play add on in the seventh to stretch it to 5-1. Griffin trickled a ball up the third base line. He beat out a throw that spurted down the right field line to advance to second base. A sacrifice bunt moved him to third. Following a punch out, Sharpe hit a ball in the hole at short beating out the throw and scoring Griffin.

Three errors in the top of the eighth inning helped the Eagles provide more run support to pad the cushion to 7-1. Morgan hit a smash to second base that Mellett could not handle to score Goforth from third base. Two batters later on a grounder to short, Thompson scored as the ball popped out of the mitt of Mellett covering second base.

Wingate mounted a comeback in the bottom of the eighth as C-N was forced to use four different pitchers. Tanner Forry worked a walk to start the inning and trotted home as Bradley Brown cranked his 10th home run of the season over the right field wall on a 0-2 pitch.

The Eagles went to the bullpen as two one-out singles put pressure on the defense. After a fly out to right field, Ty Andrus laced a single into center field for a base hit to make it a 7-4 contest.

Griffin brought in Gardner as the righty struck out Mellett on a 3-2 delivery to end the threat. The senior went back to work in the ninth and K'ed the side getting Brown looking to end the game for his ninth save of the game.

Cate earned his first win on the road this season to improve to 4-1 on the season. He worked seven innings of baseball allowing three earned runs on seven hits and five walks while punching out 10. The redshirt-senior has worked at least seven frames in four straight starts while notching his third double-digit strikeout effort.

Jordan Griffin notched his first-career three-hit outing going 3-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Goforth went 2-for-5 with two runs scored as the duo combined for five of the team's nine hits in the game.

Wingate stranded 10 men on base in the game notching 10 knocks on the day. Brown went 3-for-5 with two RBIs. Andrus and Little each registered a pair of knocks.

Hunter Morgan (4-1) took the loss as the Bulldogs fell on a Friday for the first time in 2018. The right-hander allowed two earned runs while being charged seven total runs allowed. He gave up eight hits and punched out one.

The two clubs will duel in a doubleheader on Saturday starting at 1 p.m. to decide the series. Both games of the day will be featured on starting at 12:50 p.m. courtesy of the Eagle Sports Network.

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