JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Opening a month where Carson-Newman plays nine of its 12 games at the Silver Diamond Baseball Complex, the Eagles welcome Shorter to Mossy Creek for a 3 p.m. contest on Tuesday.
Coach Tom Griffin's crew is looking to turn the page on a month of March where the team put together a losing record in a month for the first time since Feb. 2017. While the team hit 17 points better at the plate from February to March, the Eagles are scored 2.5 runs fewer.
Where the team saw the biggest difference was on the mound. After tallying a 4.40 ERA in the first 17 games of the year, that number jumped to 6.81 in March. Opponents hit .298 after posting a .252 clip in the opening month. Perhaps the biggest issue was dealing with lead-off batters as the Eagles yielded a .430 on-base percentage in March to the first batter of a frame.
"All of our games are at home except for one weekend series," Griffin said. "Every midweek game is at home. We have two weekend series at home. You'd rather have that than be at home if you had to pick one of the two. A lot of guys have stepped in and produced this weekend. We have some guys getting hot and they are getting opportunities. It increases our probability of having success as we move on."
Tyler Thompson (Gallatin, Tenn.) and Ethan Goforth (Blacksburg, Va.) were as consistent as it comes over the first two months as each the two rank first and fifth in the league in average respectively. Micah Genter (Jasper, Tenn.) hit south of .200 in February but after having seven hits in 10 at-bats against Anderson last weekend, his average in March was .317 with 10 RBIs, fifth on the team.
Tuesday is the ninth meeting with Shorter (17-15) but just the fourth in the Volunteer State. Carson-Newman (22-14) has won the last two at the SDBC and holds a 6-2 overall edge in the series history.
Last year, the two clubs met twice with each unit winning on its home field. The Eagles secured a 6-5 win on Feb. 13 with Brett Langhorne leading the way with three RBIs and scoring the game-winning run in the sixth. Will Gardner fell behind Samyr Santos 3-0 before inducing a 5-4-3 double play to earn his third save of the year.
When the units met in Rome, Ga., the Eagles were limited to four hits, one of the lowest outputs of 2018 in a 3-1 loss. The C-N bullpen polished off the final 4 1/3 innings allowing just three base runners and striking out four.
At two games over .500 on the season, Shorter is looking for its first winning year as a member of NCAA. The last such campaign came during the program's time as an NAIA member in 2012 when it went 37-19. The club opened the season 6-2 but is 11-13 since with losses in four of the last five.
At the plate, the Hawks rank towards the bottom of the Gulf South in several categories including scoring averaging 5.4 runs per game on the season. The team has relied on the long with 26 bombs, second-most in the league. Matt Christian leads the way with seven sitting in fourth.
Shorter does have the top hitter in the league in Michael Avendano who has a .421 batting average on the year courtesy of 17 multi-hit games. His .519 on-base percentage is tops in the conference as well ranking 27th nationally.
While the team ranks eighth out of 12 teams in the league in fielding percentage, the club has turned 23 double plays, the third-most in the Gulf South in 2019. The Hawks have committed an error in 27 of the 32 games.
On the mound, coach Wes Timmons has seen his side rank 40th in the country in hits allowed per nine innings at 8.5 but it ranks eighth in the league with 4.3 walks per game. The staff's overall ERA is 4.57, good for fifth in the league.
Tuesday's game will air on cneagles.com/live with video and audio options available with the Eagle Sports Network's crew providing the sights and sounds.
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