SALISBURY, N.C. – Entering the weekend as one of the top offensives in the South Atlantic Conference, Carson-Newman was unable to get the big hit Sunday at Newman Park falling 6-5 and 6-0 to 18th-ranked Catawba being swept for a second-straight weekend.
"They are really good team," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. "They don't make mistakes. They make less mistakes than you do. It comes down to coaching and they were more prepared this weekend than we were."
Michael Wroth (Chicopee, Mass.) went 5-for-9 over the weekend but the Eagles could only muster seven runs over the weekend walking just three times.
It has been four years since the Eagles were swept in back-to-back series when Tusculum and Lincoln Memorial took down Carson-Newman (18-10, 2-6) in late February and early March of 2015 as part of a seven-game losing streak against the league.
As a program, C-N is 37-77-1 against nationally-ranked schools since joining Division II and 23-47 under Tom Griffin. The Eagles fall to 43-66 in the all-time series.
Catawba (23-7, 9-3) has taken each of the last six meetings between the two programs and is 11-2 at home against the Eagles since 2007. The Indians have won 22 of the 27 affairs when ranked in the top 25.
Heath Mitchem led the way for the home crew with six knocks but Jackson Raper hit two homers and drove in five of the teams 17 runs during the three-game set.
Game One: CATAWBA 6, Carson-Newman 5
Heath Mitchem worked a walk to start the bottom of the first. On the next pitch, Jeremy Simpson launched a two-run homer over the fence in left field. Two outs later, Hunter Shepherd tripled to the gap in right-center field. Lee Poteat dribbled a ball to the left side of the infield scoring Shepherd on the error putting the Indians ahead 3-0.
Tyler Thompson (Gallatin, Tenn.), the league's leading hitter, continued his hot string with his eighth hit in his last 10 at-bats to start the second. Kilian Daughtry (Simpsonville, S.C.) hammered the next pitch out of the park to right-center field to cut the deficit to one.
Two-out hitting pushed the margin back to three at 5-2. Joe Butts tucked a double inside of the third-base bag and Lee Poteat found a gap in right field for a triple to bring a pair across the dish in the bottom of the third.
A single and a double ignited a fourth-inning rally for C-N. Riley Myers entered from the bullpen and on a 2-1 offering, Charlie Brown (Sevierville, Tenn.) drove a double to the wall in left field to bring in the pair. A base hit to left field preceded a game-tying fielder's choice to knot the score at five.
Catawba loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning. Simpson struck out but Jackson Raper broke a 2-2 by taking back-to-back pitches in the dirt drawing the walk to bring across the go-ahead run. A few pitches later, a ball bounced off of the glove of Ethan Goforth (Blacksburg, Va.). Jacob Nester tried to score but was tagged out at the dish to end the frame.
The lead-off man reached for the Eagles in the top of the ninth but stranded him at second base to end the game.
Each teams bullpen were solid with Griffin's crew going 5 1/3 allowing one earned run on three hits and a walk with eight strikeouts. Catawba's went the final six innings yielding a run on three hits with six punch outs.
Eight different players had a hit for the Indians as Poteat and Simpson each drove in a pair for the 18th-ranked team in the nation.
Game Two: CATAWBA 6, Carson-Newman 0
Catawba wasted no time taking the lead in the nightcap scoring three times in the bottom of the first on an RBI single to right-center field by Mitchem. After fly out, Jackson Raper hit ball that cleared the fence in right field for a two-run shot.
A walk and a throwing error put runners at the corners with no one out in the bottom of the fourth inning. After a punch out, a fielder's choice that nearly turned into a double play allowed Poteat to cross the plate and stretch the bulge to 4-0.
A one-out walk set the stage onece again for Raper as he launched a ball over the wall in right field for his second two-run homer of the game expanded the lead to 6-0.
It was the second time this year that the Eagles were blanked in a game as the unit mustered just three base hits, two of which came off of the bat from Wroth.
Matt Bradley worked five innings allowing a career-high six earned runs on seven hits and three walks picking up four strikeouts on the day. He has allowed 10 earned runs over his last two starts after conceding 15 total runs over his first 20 career outings.
Hunter Shepherd improved to 4-2 on the season firing 6 1/3 scoreless innings scattering three hits and a walk while punching out four batters.
Raper went 2-for-3 with two bombs, four RBIs and a pair of runs scored to pace the Indians offensively. Lentz and Mitchem added a pair of knocks.
The Eagles finish up a four-game road trip Tuesday afternoon at King at 3:30 p.m. after winning the first meeting this season 9-5 between the two clubs.
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