VIDEO: Postgame Press Conference
HICKORY, N.C. – Sixth-seeded Carson-Newman (33-19) got a pivotal, late-inning, pinch-hit knock and rode quality pitching to weather third-seeded and 20th-ranked Georgia College (36-15) plus a lengthy rain delay for a 2-1 win Thursday evening in the Southeast Regional at Bears Field.
Carson-Newman and Georgia College both had to contend with a 5:15 minute rain and lightning delay. The teams got in the top of the first inning before a firm blanket of showers and thunderstorms blanketed Hickory. The teams resumed play at 7:30 before wrapping up at 9:35.
Morgan Crawford (Chickamagua, Ga.) tallied a pinch-hit, RBI single to tie a pitcher's duel in the sixth before the Eagles grabbed the lead on an error and tallied a 2-1 win as a result.
Lacie Rinus (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) went the distance in the circle. The South Atlantic Conference's Player of the Year upped her record to 23-12. She worked around six hits, striking out three and walking two.
It took until the third inning, but Georgia College lit the lamp first. An infield single from Sutton Long to short on a chopper over the circle got the inning starter. A sacrifice moved her to second before a walk and a swinging bunt loaded the bases.
With one out, Haley Howell blooped a base hit into right. Long had to hold at third, but sprinted home when the ball dropped in fair ground for the go-ahead run.
Carson-Newman's defense picked up after that. Kristen Toppel (Roanoke, Va.) went home on a ground ball to second to prevent a run from coming in before the Eagles ended the inning getting a foul out to right. The Bobcats left the sacks juiced.
The Eagles were able to take advantage of some timely base hits and a Bobcat miscue to grab the lead.
Ashlyn Cooper (Friendsville, Tenn.) led off the frame with a base hit into right center. Taylor Scott (Huntington, W.Va.) then dropped down a perfectly placed bunt back to the circle for a base hit. A Toppel sacrifice pushed the pair into scoring position before Morgan Crawford (Chickamauga, Ga.) came up for a pinch-hit at-bat.
Crawford belted one back up the box to score the lead runner from third and level the score 1-1.
Abby Fiessinger kept the merry-go-round rolling with a ground ball to third. A throw to first was off target, allowing Fiessinge to reach and for Scott to sprint home to give C-N a 2-1 lead.
Carson-Newman had an opportunity to keep things rolling, but the Eagles popped into a double play to end the threat.
The Eagles retired the Bobcats in order in the sixth before Toppel turned a 4-3 double play on a line drive in the seventh to help preserve the 2-1 margin.
Jessie Morris got the start and a no decision after she got hit by a line drive up the middle and had to exit the game. Kayla Price took the loss in relief to fall to 8-3. She allowed nine hits, struck out one and didn't walk a batter. Only one of the Eagles runs scored off her was earned.
Rinus and Scott led Carson-Newman's offense. Rinus was 3-for-4 while Scott went 2-for-3. Crawford drove in the lone run of the day for the Eagles.
Carson-Newman left nine runners stranded, the Bobcats left six aboard. The Eagles were just 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
The Eagles advance in the winner's bracket to face Young Harris. The seven seed scored an upset over Lenoir-Rhyne 9-4. The teams square off at 1 p.m.