GREENEVILLE, Tenn. – In the second-longest game of the year for the team, Carson-Newman produced all of its runs with two outs and Tusculum stranded the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth as the Eagles survived to take game one of the South Atlantic Conference series Friday night at Pioneer Park 7-4.
The game lasted 3:39, one minute shy of the team's longest outing that came on March 17 against Anderson. It is the fourth straight win for Carson-Newman (24-20, 14-11) at Tusculum (23-23, 13-12) marking the first such winning streak since the school won seven straight from 1998 through 2002.s
"The key to hitting is to get men on base then it's the challenge between the hitter and the pitcher," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. "Charlie Brown did a great job – that was big in the sixth. Putting balls in play – you never know what's going to happen. That was a big positive."
A single to center field by John Sharpe (Franklin, Tenn.) and an error put two men on with one out in the top of the first frame. Following a punch out, Brendan Campbell (Yardley, Pa.) bounced a ball back up the middle to plate Sharpe and open the scoring at 1-0.
Tyler Thompson (Gallatin, Tenn.) started the top of the second with a single to right field and stole second base. After a strikeout, Micah Genter (Jasper, Tenn) drew a walk. A wild pitch on a strikeout moved the runners up to second and third base. Sharpe lined a 2-0 offering into right field to plate the duo and extend the margin to 3-0.
The Eagles manufactured a run in the top of the fourth inning. Charlie Brown (Sevierville, Tenn.) drew a walk to conclude a 10-pitch at-bat. A sacrifice bunt and a fly out to deep center put him at third base with two outs. On a 1-1 pitch to Sharpe, Charles Hall threw his fourth wild pitch of the season allowing Brown to scamper home and make it a 4-0 affair.
With one on and two outs, Daulton Martin ripped a single into right field to put men at the corners. A wild pitch from Dillon Cate (Sevierville, Tenn.) allowed Bryson Ford to score and get the Pioneers on the board and make it a 4-1 game.
Brown ripped a single into left field with two outs in the top of the sixth. After a sacrifice bunt, Brett Langhorne (Mechiancsville, Va.) ripped a double to the wall in right field to plate Brown and get the lead back to four at 5-1.
Tusculum cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the sixth inning. After a double play ball, Bradley Evans singled and Trey Hinton walked. Bryson Ford drove the next pitch into the gap in left-center field to score a pair to slice the margin to two at 5-3.
A hit batter, a single and a balk put runners at second and third base for the Eagles with two outs in the seventh. Brown sizzled a 3-1 pitch back up the box and into center field to score two and stretch the lead back to four at 7-3.
Martin popped out to short to open the seventh. Jarel McDade followed by launching his 10th home run of the season over the fence in left field as the score moved to 7-4.
Carson-Newman left the bases loaded in the top of the ninth as Greg Valentine (Knoxville, Tenn.) went to work in the bottom half. He struck out the first batter before allowing a single, a hit batter and a walk to load the bases. The junior induced a pop out and a game-ending 6-4 fielder's choice to seal the win.
Valentine earned a save for the first time since Feb. 27, 2016 against McKendree, his fifth career outing. In his 74th career appearance, he did not allow a run in 2 2/3 innings on one hit, two walks and two strikeouts.
Cate worked 6 1/3 innings of baseball with seven strikeouts in the game to improve to 6-2. The redshirt-senior allowed four earned runs on eight hits and four walks on 113 pitches, 73 for strikes.
"He really had to battle," Griffin assessed. "The top of that order and the guys at the bottom are going to put the ball in play. They are going to make you work really hard. I thought he battled through it. The defense played really well behind him. Greg Valentine – what more can you say? Coach [Mark Allen] Bounds thought the best matchup was Valentine so that was a great call on his part."
Sharpe and Brown paced the Eagles offensively with two hits and two RBIs apiece as each team collected nine knocks each.
C-N stranded 11 runners on base and Tusculum left 10 on in the game. Martin and catcher Nate Montgomery each had a pair of hits to lead the way.
Hall took his second loss of the year working six innings while yielding five runs, four earned on seven hits and three walks with seven strikeouts.
The two sides will duke it out for the series on Saturday beginning at 1 p.m. in the first of a doubleheader from Pioneer Park. Both games will air on cneagles.com/live starting at 12:50 p.m. on the Eagle Sports Network.
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