JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – In the final regular-season South Atlantic Conference series of the year, Carson-Newman welcomes Coker to the Silver Diamond Baseball Complex for a three-game series bidding farewell to 13 seniors. With rain expected to play a role, the teams will angle for a doubleheader on Saturday at noon and conclude the series on Monday at noon.
Prior to the start of the first game on Saturday, the Eagles will honor the 13-man senior class with a presentation on the field 30 minutes prior to the first pitch. Parents and family are welcome to be on the field by the backstop to take photos.
"I think they have shown hot to be servants and how to be led by Jesus Christ," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. "Their leadership, what they have left here and their footprint has done a fantastic job. I will continue to tell them how much they have meant to the program and me personally for their dedication and their loyalty. I know a lot of coaches feel that way. That's what this is all about, the relationships. It's a large group but really, really good young men who will be very successful beyond Carson-Newman."
In terms of seeding for next week's SAC Tournament, the Eagles can finish anywhere from fifth to eighth this weekend depending on how the rest of the league sorts out. If Carson-Newman (28-17, 9-11) secures a three-game sweep, the program would finish above .500 in the league for the third time in the last four years after a string of four-straight losing campaigns.
Griffin's crew has won nine of the 13 meetings with Coker (16-24-1, 8-11-1) since the two clubs began playing in 2014. The Eagles have won each of the last five since Coker won 4-3 on March 26, 2016 in the middle game of the series. C-N has won three of the four sets with the exception coming in 2014 when the Cobras snatched two of three in Hartsville.
Last season, C-N swept the three-game series in Hartsville in the second series of the year winning in 10 innings, 7-3 in the first game after trailing 3-0 after seven. In the final 19 innings of the series, the Eagles outscored the Cobras 24-7.
At the dish, the C-N lineup stole seven bases and reached base at a .445 clip despite not hitting a homer during the weekend. Among returners, John Sharpe (Franklin, Tenn.), 5-for-12 with four RBIs, and Ethan Goforth (Blacksburg, Va.), 5-for-13 with three RBIs and four runs scored, led the way.
On the rubber, two Eagles combined to allow five of the 10 runs while recording just five outs. The other seven pitchers yielded five runs over 24 1/3 innings with 24 punch outs led by six strong innings of one-run, six punch out baseball by Dalton Long (Powell, Tenn.) in the finale.
After being picked to finish 10th in the preseason coaches' poll, Coker enters the weekend sitting in eighth but needs to win a game or two to put itself in position for a berth with Anderson hosting Mars Hill.
"I think they have done a good job this year," Griffin said. "Some of the games they have lost have been tough. They have dealt with some injuries. Any sign of a good coach is dealing with injuries and still having a chance to get in it. They have a lot to play for."
The Cobras won their first two series of the year against Mars Hill and Queens but has dropped each of the last five including nine of the last 12. Overall, the unit has dropped 16 of its last 22 despite winning three of its last five.
Unpacking the stats, the team is towards the bottom in almost every category ranking in the bottom two in a dozen areas. Only Newberry is a tougher team to strikeout in SAC play this year but it has scored the third-fewest runs.
George Washington transfer Larry McCabe is one of the top power hitters in the league this year with 27 of his 49 hits this year going for extra bases. Six of his eight homers have come against SAC schools but he is hitting .280 on the road versus .412 at home. In 2018, the Eagles limited him to a 1-for-6 effort at the plate.
Only three players have hit home runs this season with Reilly Hall notching five and RJ Ball posting a pair. Eight of the team's 30 steals on the year have come in the last five games for a team that has the second-fewest in the SAC.
Coach Luke Harrigan's pitching staff is last in the conference in strikeouts per nine innings with seven while posting nearly six walks per game. The Cobras are tied with Lenoir-Rhyne for walks in conference contests with 108.
Jon Koski is the team's Friday night starter posting a 5-3 record with a 6.61 ERA. The majority of that damage comes on the road where his ERA jumps 3.5 runs despite giving up four total homers. Six of his 10 outings this year have featured at least three earned runs allowed giving.
Tanner Wofford allowed one run over seven relief frames in the finale against C-N last season despite allowing nine hits. This year, he is the team's best starter with a 5.64 ERA that is 7.79 in 17 1/3 road innings. He has walked at least three in his last six appearances.
All of the outings this weekend will be broadcast live on cneagles.com/live with The Eagle Sports Network providing audio and video options.
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