KODAK, Tenn. – Carson-Newman's 2018 campaign came to a close as top-seeded Catawba beat the No. 3 seed by a final margin of 7-0 behind a strong start from Riley Myers in an elimination game of the South Atlantic Conference Baseball Championships Sunday evening at Smokies Stadium.
"The message was not a game, not a situation, not a play defines who you are," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. "What defines us is the body of their work. We told them that the body of their work was a job well done. It was outstanding on the field and off. We learned what a servant heart is. We learned about competing. We learned about adversity. We learned about handling success. This game didn't define us. None of the losses defined us. None of the wins defined us."
The season comes to a close for Carson-Newman (28-22) as the pitching staff sets a program record for strikeouts in a season with 425 on the campaign.
Catawba (29-22) advances to Championship Monday with the win and will play Lincoln Memorial at 1 p.m. needing to win twice for the title. The Indians win the 20th meeting between the two schools in the conference tournament.
The first chance of the game came for the Eagles in the bottom of the first as the team put two runners at second and third base with one out. A pop out to shallow center field and a punch out ended the best chance to score for the three seed.
With one out in the top of the third inning, four straight singles put the Indians on the scoreboard. A fielder's choice ground out by Joe Butts made it 2-0. With the sacks juiced, Cameron Morrison struck out to leave the bases loaded.
Catawba was able to push the lead out to 6-0 thanks to scoring four times with two outs in the top of the sixth inning. With two on base, Will Gardner (Morristown, Tenn.) entered out of the bullpen and allowing a trickling single into center field by Chance Bowden. Heath Mitchem and Jackson Raper produced RBI singles sandwiched around an RBI double from Luke Setzer as he was thrown out at the plate to end the stanza.
In the top of the seventh, the Indians loaded the bases and settled for just one run on a fielder's choice ground out by Kyle Smith stretching the margin to 7-0.
On the first two pitches of the top of the ninth inning, Joe Butts and Jacob Nester singled. Morrison hit a hard grounder to third that Brett Langhorne (Mechiancsville, Va.) fielded, threw to second baseman Dom Leo (Knoxville, Tenn.) who uncorked a throw to first base for a 5-4-3 triple play.
Riley Myers retired 19 of the final 20 batters that he faced in the game including each of the last 10. The right-hander struck out six, allowed five hits and hit a batter to earn the win.
Gardner closes out his career tied for second on the school's all-time saves list as he completes the campaign with 12 on the season.
It was the first time since April 21, 2011 that the Eagles were blanked in the league tournament since April 21, 2011 when the Indians won 12-0. John Sharpe (Franklin, Tenn.) had two of the team's five hits on the day.
Catawba finished the game by going 7-for-13 with runners in scoring position despite leaving 10 on base in the game. Every starter with the exception of Morrison had at least one hit in the game as Raper went 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Four other hitters had two knocks apiece.
Carson-Newman baseball updates can be found on cneagles.com and on Twitter at @CNathletics and @CNbaseball for all of the information during the offseason leading up to the 2018 campaign.
- CN -