Lions tame Eagles to seize sweep

VIDEO: Tom Griffin Interview

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Mars Hill broke a 5-5 tie in the first game with a grand slam before an outburst in the second to win 11-5 and 16-0 in the final day of the series to sweep the South Atlantic Conference series Sunday afternoon at the Silver Diamond Baseball Complex.

"There's nothing good about today," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. "It was a terrible performance and it starts at the top. Coach Rembert and his staff did a great job. They came in with a purpose and are playing well. Our 1-3 hitters had a terrible weekend, bottom line. Their better hitters, 2-3-4, decimated us. They pitched it better, were better defensively and in every facet were prepared."

Mars Hill (17-20-1, 9-12) has now won six consecutive series against Carson-Newman (20-18, 11-10) as the Eagles have not won a weekend set since the 2012 campaign. The Lions have won eight straight in the series. The Eagles are swept at home for the first time since the Lions did so during the 2016 season.

Game One: MARS HILL 11, Carson-Newman 5

An infield single in the hole at shortstop by Cody Cline opened the game and a walk two batters later put two men on with one out for Christian Stampler. The third baseman hit a fly ball to deep right field that evaded the mitt of Jordan Griffin (Ellerslie, Ga.) as the rookie banged into the wall to score Cline and make it a 1-0 contest.

C-N starter Kyle Cagle (Fairview, N.C.) threw 40 pitches in the third inning as Mars Hill scored three times to push the lead to 4-0. A jam shot single from Brett Brubaker and a walk put two on. Cagle struck out Stampler during an 11-pitch at-bat. Josh Hall flared a ball down the right field line that saw Griffin slip as he overran the ball to load the bases. Shomarii Thomas ripped a two-run single through the left side of the infield on a 3-2 offering. Mike Ramunno hit a shallow pop up to left field that dropped between three defenders for a base hit to cap the three-run frame.

With one out in the top of the fourth, Brett Brubaker homered for the second straight game launching a 0-1 pitch over the wall in right-center field to make it 5-0.

A single, an error and a hit batsmen loaded the bases for the Eagles in the bottom of the fifth with no one out. A shallow fly out to right field failed to produce a run. Cade Snapp (Seymour, Tenn.) hit a fly ball to left that Hall tracked down with a leaping grab to get the home team on the board at 5-1.

Griffin ripped a double inside of the third base bag and past Stampler for a double to ignite a rally in the top of the sixth. Five tosses later on a 1-2 delivery, Colby Morgan (Hixson, Tenn.) touched up Jared Mathewson for the second straight game cranking a two-run blast over the fence in left field to cut the deficit in half to 5-3.

After a fly out, Charlie Brown (Sevierville, Tenn.) lined a single to left field and an error at third base put two men on base in the bottom of the eighth. After a ground out to second moved the runners up a bag, John Sharpe (Franklin, Tenn.) laced a single into left field to score the duo and tie the score at five.

In the top of the ninth, Mars Hill had runners at first and second with two outs. Stampler barely budged on a slider inside taking the ball off of his left bicep to load the bases. Josh Hall ambushed the next pitch and crushed it over the fence in right field to put the Lions back on top. Barrett Hennings singled and scored on a home run to right center by Thomas as the margin extended to 11-5.

The Eagles went quietly on eight pitches in the ninth. Troy Hall fired the final four frames for Mars Hill allowing two unearned runs on three hits while striking out two to improve to 1-3 on the season.

Greg Valentine (Knoxville, Tenn.) worked a career-high five innings throwing 61 pitches but took his first loss of the season out of relief.

Carson-Newman left nine men on base in the game as Brown notched his first-career three-hit game going 3-for-4 with two runs scored to lead the offense. Goforth went 2-for-5 out of the clean-up spot. The Eagles were 3-for-18 with runners on base in the game and 3-for-13 with men in scoring position.

Thomas and Hall each had four RBIs and two hits to lead a Mars Hill group that tallied 12 hits in the game. The Lions capitalized on chances going 5-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

Game Two: MARS HILL 16, Carson-Newman 0

With runners at first and second base with two outs, Matt Honeycutt rifled a 3-1 pitch off of the base of the fence in the right-field corner to plate a pair and give the Lions a 2-0 edge in the third inning.

Barrett Hennings hit a pop fly on the infield that C-N starter Dalton Long (Powell, Tenn.) dropped moving towards the first-base line. Three tosses later on a 2-0 pitch, Thomas blasted a two-run homer to left field to stretch it out to a 4-0 margin.

In the top of the fifth inning, Mars Hill sent 15 men to the plate and scored 11 times on five hits and an error while drawing four walks and being hit by a pitch. It was the first time since Feb. 22, 2011 that C-N had allowed 10 or more runs in an inning.

A solo blast from Honeycutt in the seven extended the margin to 16-0 and give the Eagles their worst loss since a 17-0 blanking from North Georgia in the third game on 2017.

Carson-Newman mustered on hit on the day, a one-hit single from Sharpe with one out in the first. Despite that, the Eagles had runners on base in four of the seven frames leaving six on base for the day.

Zac Brown started the Lions going six innings with six punch outs, one hit and two walks throwing 76 pitches on the day to take the win and move to 3-2 on the season.

C-N threw seven hurlers on the day as Long took the loss after firing 3 1/3 innings of baseball with four runs, three earned on five hits with five strikeouts and one walk.

Honeycutt went 3-for-5 with four RBIs and three runs scored as nine different players scored at least one run in the contest for the Lions.

The Eagles turn their attention to a non-conference midweek outing against Limestone on Tuesday for a 3 p.m. first pitch. Audio and video streams will be available on starting 10 minutes before the first pitch.

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