KODAK, Tenn. – Riding one of the longest winning streaks in the country, sixth-seeded Carson-Newman tees it up Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. inside of Smokies Stadium against seventh-seeded Anderson in a single-elimination game to open the Pilot Flying J South Atlantic Conference Baseball Championships.
Coach Tom Griffin's crew has won nine games in-a-row, the longest mark in the league and the longest stretch by the program since rattling off 11 straight from Feb. 20 to March 8, 2016.
"This is the next season," Griffin said. ""We get to play one game. You have to win that in order to stay in but at least we are in it with the opportunity. That's all we are going to focus on is that one pitch in that one game and see what happens."
Carson-Newman (31-17) has won four SAC Championships (1992, 1993, 1997 and 2007) since the tournament began in 1991. Catawba (7) and Wingate (6) are the only schools with more titles. Tusculum has also won four trophies.
The Eagles hold a 53-44 record in the league tournament that includes an 11-10 mark in games played in the Volunteer State. Prior to the 2016 season, the last time the championships were held in Tennessee came in 2006 in Greeneville. This year is the fourth straight campaign at Smokies Stadium where C-N is 9-10 overall and 7-6 in league championships.
The regular season champion has won the tournament title 13 times in 29 tries while a top four team has won all but two championships. Wingate was a five seed in 2015 and finished the SAC regular season with a 15-15 mark. In 2000, Lenoir-Rhyne was sixth in the regular season in 2000 going 13-10 before marching to grab the hardware.
Thursday night is the 40th all-time meeting between the two teams with the Eagles winning 30 of the first 39. C-N has won 12 of the last 16 and had won six in-a-row before losing the series finale on March 30 by a 3-2 tally.
As a team, the club hit .352 but only outscored Anderson (19-29) by a pair of runs as the Trojans committed seven errors. Micah Genter (Jasper, Tenn.) led the team with seven hits in 10 at-bats with five RBIs.
Dillon Carpenter did most of the damage against the Eagles going 8-for-13 with six RBIs and a pair of runs scored. Three of the team's starters combined to go 1-for-20 at the plate as the top of the order did most of the damage.
Having met once before in the postseason, the Eagles staved off elimination in the 2018 SAC Tournament behind a complete game, 11-strikeout effort from Matt Bradley (Talbott, Tenn.) in a 6-1 win on day two. Overall, he fired 10 1/3 innings on the season yielding seven hits and two walks over two outings versus the Trojans.
Coach Joe Miller's team has won seven of its last 11 games and seven of its last nine SAC games to get into the conference championships. It is the sixth time being in the postseason since joining the league in 2011 as the school has never been higher than the six seed doing so in 2015.
Anderson is the lowest scoring team in the conference posting just over five runs per game hitting .255 as a team, the 46th-lowest mark in the country. It has produced double-digit hits with five of the last seven after having three over the prior 18.
Will Lindsey is one of the most patient hitters in the country having drawn an average of one walk per game ranking fifth in the SAC in on-base percentage at .487. He was on base six times in 14 plate appearances during the series in March.
Only 17 teams in Division II have yielded more hits per nine innings this year than Anderson's 13 on average having given up 10 or more hits 30 times in 48 games. It is a staff that throws strikes with a total 22 over the last 11 outings.
Christian Carpenter was the only all-conference player on the roster being named an honorable mention reliever after leading the country with 13 saves. He has a 1.80 ERA having not allowed a run in his last seven games since March 26, a string of the last 9 1/3 frames featuring 16 punch outs, one walk and five hits.
All of the action can be heard and seen on cneagles.com/live with the Eagle Sports Network providing the coverage of every game throughout the tournament.
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