KODAK, Tenn. – Freshman right-hander Matt Bradley punched out a career-high 11 batters as third-seeded Carson-Newman's five-run sixth inning kept the Eagles alive in the 2018 South Atlantic Conference Baseball Championships with a 6-1 victory over eighth-seeded Anderson Saturday evening at Smokies Stadium.
Bradley, a native of Talbott, Tenn., tossed a complete game on 128 pitches scattering six hits and a walk with one earned run allowed. His 11 punch outs more than doubled his previous career high.
"Facing elimination with seniors on our team I didn't want to let them down," Bradley said. "I just wanted to come out here and give it everything that I had with some of them it might be there last game. [Pitching coach] Bounds snapchatted me the game plan for today last night so I have been focusing on that today."
With the victory, Carson-Newman (28-21) advances to play top-seeded Catawba in an elimination game on Sunday at 3:45 p.m. while Anderson (24-28) will play at noon in an elimination contest against the loser of the nightcap.
Brett Langhorne (Mechiancsville, Va.) banged the first pitch of the game to the warning track in left-center field for a lead-off double. A fly out to right and a sacrifice fly to center brought the senior home to give the Eagles a 1-0 start.
"There is no doubt that you have to find a catalyst," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. "There is no doubt that that was important but that was a spark in that inning. Last night we left a lot of guys on base and we needed that key hit. Tonight we were able to get some key hits. Brendan Campbell with two strikes. That's what the game is. LMU was able to do that tonight against us and fortunately we were able to do it today."
Bradley had retired eight when Chandler Castleberry stepped to the plate with one out in the bottom of the fourth inning. On a 2-2 pitch, the right-handed hitter cranked a home run over the wall in left-center field to tie the score at one.
In the top of the sixth inning Carson-Newman's offense exploded scoring five times sending 10 men to the plate to take a 6-1 advantage. A single and a walk began the frame as Ethan Goforth (Blacksburg, Va.) drove in John Sharpe (Franklin, Tenn.) with a double that was just out of the reach of Castleberry's glove in right field. Brendan Campbell (Yardley, Pa.) followed with a two-run single that split the middle infield.
After a base hit and a sacrifice bunt, Charlie Brown (Sevierville, Tenn.) ripped a single into right field to score Campbell. With a runner at third base, Micah Genter (Jasper, Tenn.) pushed a bunt towards the second baseman beating the throw and producing the inning's fifth run.
Anderson's biggest rally came with two outs in eighth inning as a pair of knocks put two men on. Bradley fell behind 3-1 before battling back to strike out Matthew Overton looking to end the threat.
"At that point I was really wanting to finish the game," Bradley assessed. "I was trying to everything I could to get the guy that was up. Goforth once again called a good game. He knew what I wanted to throw there and luckily I located it and ended up getting to finish the rest of the game."
Three players had two hits in the game as Langhorne, Campbell, Jordan Griffin (Ellerslie, Ga.) led the way in that area with Goforth and Campbell each driving in a pair.
Castleberry went 3-for-3 with a walk in the game while his teammates combined for just three hits in the game with just one in 10 tries with a man on base.
Andrew Dill took his fifth loss of the season and second to the Eagles allowing three earned runs on four hits and two walks in five innings of work.
The elimination game for the Eagles will be against top-seeded Catawba on Sunday at 3:45 p.m. from Smokies Stadium. Audio and video coverage will start 10 minutes before first pitch on cneagles.com/live with the Eagle Sports Network.
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