MARS HILL, N.C. – Looking to snap an eight-game losing streak to Mars Hill, Carson-Newman opens its 2019 South Atlantic Conference schedule Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. against the Lions wrapping up the series on Saturday with a doubleheader starting at noon.
Carson-Newman (14-3) has won five of its last six SAC openers after beating Newberry 5-3 on Feb. 23, 2018. A 10-7 loss at Catawba on Feb. 24, 2017 is the only setback in that span. Overall, the program 17-11 in the first conference contest of the year going 16-11-1 in the opening series.
In four of the last seven seasons, the Eagles have begun the year with a sweep going 8-3 in series sweeps over the first 28 years as a member of the league.
This the fourth-straight season that coach Tom Griffin's team has begun the league slate on the road going 5-4 in visits to Brevard (2016), Catawba (2017) and Newbery (2018).
Mars Hill (6-8, 1-2) is the first opponent of the SAC season for the Eagles for the third time. The other two instances came in successive years with C-N taking two of three at home on Feb. 24-25, 1996 before sweeping a three-game set on March 8-9, 1997.
The Lions have dominated the recent series winning each of the last eight and 14 of the last 16 meetings by winning six series in-a-row since the Eagles took two out of three on March 16-17, 2012 at Mossy Creek.
To find the last win in general for C-N, one has to go back to March 16, 2015 when the Eagles salvaged the series finale winning 6-2. Jamie Miller spun a complete game punching out eight over seven innings while Bo Ausmus went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and a pair of runs scored.
Last season, the Eagles were outscored 35-10 over the three-game series at the Silver Diamond Baseball Complex including being limited to one hit in the series finale leaving six men on base in a 16-0 loss.
Mars Hill has lost six of its last nine games dropping two of three games at Coker in the first conference weekend of the year for the unit. After playing two home games in February, the Lions open up a 10-game homestand Friday. The program was 15-7-1 at home last season and 6-19 on the road.
At the plate, the unit has not quite found its stroke yet this season ranking ninth in the league in batting average at .257 and seventh in scoring at six runs per night. The team has hit 15 home runs, 17th nationally and stolen 33 bases, 10th in the country. Only Wingate is striking out more than the club's 132 as seven players have punched out at least 10 times.
Matt Honeycutt is the top run producer with four homers and 12 driven in. He went 3-for-5 with four RBIs and three runs scored in the series finale in 2018. He began the year on a six-game hitting streak but is just 3-for-18 over the last six outings.
On the mound, no team has allowed more runs at 114 than any other club in the league walking the second-most batters while striking out the second-fewest. Seven different pitchers have started a game so far on the year for coach Aaron Rembert.
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