C-N seizes sweep of Tusculum to clinch three seed

VIDEO: Tom Griffin Interview

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. – On the final day of the South Atlantic Conference regular season, Carson-Newman excelled in all three phases against Tusculum to finalize the series sweep with 6-4 and 7-4 victories Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Park to seize the No. 3 seed in next week's conference tournament.

"This was a great weekend series," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. "All of these games could have gone either way. It's one hit. It's one play. It's one pitch. That's a typical series with these guys. As much as we are standing here 3-0, it could have been a 2-1, 1-2 or 0-3 very simply. That's a really good club. We feel very fortunate. We played well in all three facets. We talked about being very consistent. I don't know if one area was great but they were all very consistent."

The Eagles are into the double elimination portion of the SAC Baseball Championships and will face Lincoln Memorial on Friday night, April 27, at 7:30 p.m. in the nightcap of day two.

Carson-Newman (26-20, 16-11) sweeps Tusculum (23-25, 13-14) for the second straight trip and the fourth time in the all-time series. The Eagles improve to 12-10 on the road marking the second time in the last six years that the group finishes above .500.

In 12 innings of relief work, five hurlers combined to allow three runs while striking out 14 batters and giving up seven hits.

Game One: CARSON-NEWMAN 6, Tusculum 4

With one out in the bottom of the second stanza, Trey Hinton drew a walk and Bryson Ford dribbled a single into center field. On a 0-1 pitch, Seth DeHaven hit a ball back up the middle that slid under the glove of a diving shortstop and into center field to score Hinton and put the Pioneers on top 1-0.

Tusculum stretched the margin to four runs in the bottom of the sixth stanza. A single and a walk opened the frame before a sacrifice bunt moved the runners up a bag. With the infield pulled in, Bryson Ford hit a slow roller out to short and beat out the throw to score a run. A ground out to second scored a man and Daulton Martin drove a base hit to left field to push the margin to 4-0.

Three Tusculum errors helped Carson-Newman tie the score in the top of the seventh inning. John Sharpe (Franklin, Tenn.) drew a walk to start the stanza and Ethan Goforth (Blacksburg, Va.) singled after a pop out. Brendan Campbell (Yardley, Pa.) hit a ground ball through the hole on the right side of the infield. As the ball got to the glove of right fielder Zack Finchum it skipped up and over his shoulder and went to the wall. All three runners rushed to plate to make it a one-run contest.

Two pitchers later, Martin made an error at shortstop. After a sacrifice bunt, an error at third base put men at the corners for Micah Genter (Jasper, Tenn.). The rookie floated a base hit into shallow left field to score Jordan Griffin (Ellerslie, Ga.) and tie the game at four.

In the top of the eighth inning, Cade Snapp (Seymour, Tenn.) singled to right field with one out. After a fly out to right field, a hit batter and a walk loaded the bases. Tyler Thompson (Gallatin, Tenn.) shoveled a single through the right side of the infield to score a pair and give the Eagles their first lead of the game at 6-4.

Martin started the bottom of the ninth with a single and a two-out infield single from Colby Skeen put the tying run on base. Will Gardner (Morristown, Tenn.) struck out Finchum on three pitches to complete the six-out save.

Gardner fired two scoreless frames for his 11th save of the year striking out four men and allowing two hits. He was one of five pitchers used by C-N in the game as Luke Friedman (Gilbert, Ariz.) picked up his second win of the year tossing a scoreless seventh.

Six players had hits for the Eagles on the day as Campbell had his fifth three-hit game of his career to pace the group at the dish.

Tusuclum held the lead in hitting in the game 10-9 as Martin and Skeen each had two hits while Ford racked up three for the home group.

Game Two: CARSON-NEWMAN 7, Tusculum 4

Martin started the bottom of the fourth frame with a base hit into left field. After a pop out, Nate Montgomery ripped a ball that split the gap in right field to plate Martin and open the game with a Tusculum advantage at 1-0.

The Eagles put two men on with one out in the top of the second. Genter served a ball down the line on a 1-2 count to bring in Campbell and tie the score at one. Two pitches later on a 0-1 offering, Brett Langhorne (Mechiancsville, Va.) hit a towering fly ball to right field that cleared the fence near the light pole for his seventh blast of the season and give the Eagles the lead at 4-1.

C-N loaded the bases with one out in the top of the third inning but settled for one run to extend the advantage to 5-1. Thompson rolled a ball back up the middle that Martin flipped to second for one out but Thompson legged it out at first base to get the run home.

The Eagles ignited a two-out rally in the fifth as Thompson drew a walk and an error by Martin at shortstop put two on base. Genter, hitting from the right side, ripped a single to left field to get Thompson across and make it 6-1.

Tusculum sent eight men to the plate in the bottom of the fifth inning to score three times and cut the deficit to two at 6-4. A sacrifice fly to center field by Jarel McDade was the second out. Colby Skeen and Finchum found gaps in the defense with singles to cap the scoring.

Sharpe pulled a single through the left side of the infield to open the frame. A sacrifice bunt moved him to second base. After a fly out, Kilian Daughtry (Simpsonville, S.C.) pinch hit and smacked a single into left field to get Sharpe to the plate and get the edge to 7-4.

In the bottom of the seventh, Gardner hit McDade to start the frame. The senior right-hander struck out the next three batters, swinging, looking and swinging to end the game for his 12th save of the year. It moved him into a tie for second on the school's ledger with John Butler in 1999 for saves in a season.

Matt Bradley (Talbott, Tenn.) picked up the win for a second straight week working five innings and allowing four earned runs on nine hits and a walk with three strikeouts.

Genter produced his first career three-hit game going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored on the day. Langhorne had two hits and three RBIs out of the lead-off spot. For the first time in the series the Eagles outhit the Pioneers 10-9.

Martin went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and Montgomery went 2-for-4 with a run scored to lead the home team's offense.

Justin Massey fell to 0-4 on the season by going 2 1/3 innings allowing five runs, one earned on four hits and two walks with a strikeout.

Griffin's group has one game left on the schedule, an outing against Bluefield State on Monday at 3 p.m. at the Silver Diamond Baseball Complex.

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