YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – For the final time on the current schedule, Carson-Newman plays a pair of midweek contests with a road trip to Young Harris Tuesday at 2 p.m. before hosting Bluefield State on Wednesday at 2 p.m.
With a win on Tuesday, Carson-Newman (16-3) can record its best 20-game start to a season since at least 1990 besting the prior mark of a 16-3-1 opening to the 1999 campaign. Coach Gary Rundles led his unit to an 11-1 start and 25-4-1 before they lost two in-a-row for the first time during the 1999 Division II World Series campaign.
Over that period, the fewest games that it has taken the program to reach 20 wins in a season has been 25 with the 1993 NAIA World Series team opening the year 20-5 and the aforementioned 1999 club recording a 20-4-1 mark through the first 25 contests of the year.
Young Harris (11-7) has been C-N's opponent on two occasions winning both, a 9-5 win at home on Feb. 27, 2013 and taking down the Eagles at Mossy Creek in a seven inning affair, 13-1 on March 11, 2014.
In the 2013 affair, Carson-Newman trailed 9-0 heading into the top of the seventh before scoring four runs in that frame and another in the ninth. Peter Rajkovich and Shade Jett were the only Eagles with multi-hit games, with Jett going 2-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs while Rajkovich was 2-for-5. The top three hitters in the Young Harris batting order all had two-hit games, with six Mountain Lions collecting multi-hit games. Travis Donahoo scattered four hits in five shutouts innings.
When the clubs met in 2014, the Mountain Lions scored at least two runs in five of the seven frames as C-N avoided the shutout thanks to a one-out single by Jett in the bottom of the seventh. Spencer Thomas went 5-for-5 with three doubles and five runs scored as the top three men in the Mountain Lions lineup scored ten of the team's 13 runs.
In the preseason Peach Belt Conference coaches' poll, Young Harris was tabbed to finish seventh, its highest prediction ever, after ending the 2018 campaign with a 28-26 overall record. Seven of the victories came against top-40 competition as the team qualified for the conference tournament for the first time winning a program-high 15 PBC games.
The Mountain Lions program have produced two elite players in 2018 National All-Stars Nick Markakis and Charlie Blackmon. Markakis was the seventh overall pick in the 2003 draft. The 13-year veteran went 12-0 on the mound with a 1.68 ERA as a senior while hitting .439 with 21 homers with 92 RBIs. Blackmon started his career at Young Harris before going to Georgia Tech where he was the second round pick of the Colorado Rockies in 2008.
Coach Stephen Waggener's crew has won all four of its home games this season as the team's pitching staff has used 15 hurlers to date recording two shutouts over a stretch where the team has won five of six giving up 21 total runs during that sequence.
At the plate, Zavier Lushington has upped his game posting a .400 batting average after hitting .234 last season. He has a six-game hitting streak rolling going 13-for-25 at the dish with four home runs and 11 RBIs.
C-N takes on Bluefield State (3-4) for the eighth time overall as the Eagles have never dropped an outing against the Blues outscoring them 108-27 in those contests. C-N has produced at least 12 runs in each of the last six outings.
When the two clubs faced off on April 23, 2018, Carson-Newman went 7-for-14 with runners in scoring position using a late surge to pull away late from Bluefield State. The Eagles led 6-2 after two innings but it was a 9-7 game at stretch time when Griffin's crew scored five in the seventh. The Big Blues posted their highest run total in a game besting their previous tally of four done twice.
Three players each had three hits for the Eagles as Brett Langhorne led the charge by going 3-for-4 with three RBIs and three runs scored. Mark Treadway registered a 3-for-5 day with two runs scored and Colby Morgan had three knocks and an RBI.
The Eagles used six hurlers on the day recording five punch outs as a staff and walking just two men. Luke Friedman and Jonathan Jacks threw scoreless innings to close out the day.
Eight different players had hits for Bluefield State as Tanner Brandon, Kevon Moxey, Cole Blocker and Kendall Rolen each had a pair of hits on the day. Five different hurlers toed the slab for the visitors with each pitcher allowed at least one run.
Last season was a much improved year for the Big Blues as the team finished 17-19 overall on the season after going 25-72 winning 12 and 13 games each over the last two seasons.
The game on Wednesday will air on the Eagle Sports Network with video and live stats available on cnealges.com/live.
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