GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Carson-Newman baseball team rallied from behind in both games of a South Atlantic Conference doubleheader as the Eagles swept rival Tusculum Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Park.
Carson-Newman (26-20, 16-11 SAC) won by scores of 6-4 and 7-4 to secure sole possession of third place in the final conference standings with the three-game weekend sweep over the Pioneers (23-25, 13-14 SAC). Tusculum finishes in a three-way tie for fifth place along with Lenoir-Rhyne and Newberry.
Following the tiebreakers, Tusculum will be the No. 7 seed at next week's SAC Baseball Championship and will face sixth-seeded Newberry in an elimination game on Thursday at Smokies Stadium in Kodak, Tennessee. C-N will be the No. 3 seed and will play No. 4 seed Lincoln Memorial on Friday as part of the double-elimination portion of the tournament.
Carson-Newman closer Will Gardner secured his 11th and 12th saves of the year as he pitched three combined scoreless innings and recorded seven total strikeouts.
Tusculum shortstop Daulton Martin went 5-for-9 on the day to raise his batting average to .415 to capture the SAC individual batting crown.
Game 1: Carson-Newman 6, Tusculum 4
Carson-Newman rallied from a 4-0 deficit thanks to a three Tusculum errors in a four-run seventh as the Eagles prevailed 6-4 in Saturday's opener.
C-N's Brenden Campbell went 3-for-3 with two runs scored as the Eagles finished the game with 10 hits.
TC forged out to a 4-0 lead scoring one run in the second inning and three more in the sixth. In the second, Trey Hinton got aboard with a one-out walk, moved to second on Ford's single and scored on Seth DeHaven's RBI single up the middle.
Tusculum starting pitcher Chase McAllister blanked the Eagles through the first six innings as he scattered four singles, used a pair of double plays and didn't allow a runner past second base.
In TC's three-run sixth inning, Zack Finchum led off with a single and Bradley Evans followed with a walk. Hinton bunted the runners to second and third base for Ford. For legged out an infield single to bring home Finchum. Evans scored on DeHaven's ground out and Martin made it a 4-0 game with his two-out single down the left field line.
In the top of the seventh, the Eagles got a lead-off walk from John Sharpe. McAllister got Cade Snapp to pop up to the catcher for the first out of the frame. Ethan Goforth singled to put runners at first and second. Campbell stepped up lined a single to right field as the runners moved up a base. But on the play, the ball went under the glove of the outfielder and rolled all the way to the wall, allowing Sharpe and Goforth to score easily and Campbell hurried around the bases to score on the three-base miscue to trim the deficit to 4-3. Griffin reached on a TC fielding error with one out. Tyler Thompson bunted him over into scoring position. Charlie Brown hit a chopper to third, but the throw to first took TC first baseman Bradley Evans off the bag to put runners on the corners. Micah Genter came up with a single to left field to drive in Griffin with the game-tying run.
In the bottom of the seventh inning with reliever Luke Friedman on the mound for the Eagles, Tusculum's Jarel McDade drew a lead-off walk and moved to second on Nate Montgomery's bunt. Friedman intentionally walked Skeen, but bounced back with a strikeout and a ground out.
In the top of the eighth, Snapp got on with a one out single. Goforth lined out to right field for the second out of the inning. But Campbell was hit by a pitch and Griffin drew a walk to load the bases. Thompson stepped up and hit a two-out, two-run single to give the Eagles a 6-4 lead.
Gardner came on the bottom of the eight and retired the side in order with a pair of strikeouts. TC reliever Pedro Rodriguez worked around a lead-off walk in the ninth and retired the next three batters, including two via strikeout to keep it a two-run contest.
In the bottom of the frame, Martin led off with a single and later moved to second on Skeen's two-out infield hit. But Gardner closed out the rally with a strikeout to end the game.
Friedman picked up the win as he pitched the eighth inning allowing two walks and a strikeout. Gardner tossed two shutout innings, allowing two hits and recorded four strikeouts for his 11th save of 2018. McAllister (4-2) took the tough loss as he pitched gutty eight innings, allowed six runs with only two of those being earned with a pair of walks and four strikeouts in his 124-pitch performance.
Game 2: Carson-Newman 7, Tusculum 4
Brett Langhorne went 2-for-3 including a three-run homer to spark a four-run second inning as Carson-Newman won the night-cap, 7-4.
The Eagles capitalized on four Tusculum errors with only two of C-N's seven runs being earned in Saturday's second contest.
C-N tallied 10 hits with Genter leading the way with his 3-for-4 effort which included his sixth double of the season.
Tusculum accounted for nine hits with Martin leading the charge with his 3-for-4 game, while Montgomery went 2-of-4 in the loss.
The Pioneers jumped out to a 1-0 lead with a run in the first inning as Martin led off with a base hit and scored on a hit and run from first base on Montgomery's one-out single for an early 1-0 lead.
In the second, Campbell reached on a lead-off error. After two outs, TC starter Justin Massey walked Brown and gave up a RBI double to Genter to tie the game. Langhorne broke the tie with his home run to right field to give C-N a 4-1 lead. It was Langhorne's seven homer of the year.
C-N added a run in the third inning as Goforth hit a one-out single and moved to third on Campbell's third double of the season. TC reliever Andrew Willis took over the on the mound for the first time since he was hit by a line drive to the face on Feb. 18, 2018 against Notre Dame (Ohio). The popular Willis received a loud ovation from the crowd when he took the hill, wearing a new protective mask.
Griffin was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Thompson hit a RBI fielder's choice to drive in Goforth from third to increase the C-N lead to 5-1. But Willis ended the inning with a fly out to limit the damage
After giving up a run in the first inning, C-N starter Matt Bradley blanked the Pioneers over the next three innings.
The Eagles added an unearned run in the fifth inning for a 6-1 lead before Tusculum scored three times in the bottom of the frame, including a McDade sacrifice fly and back-to-back RBI singles from Skeen and Finchum as TC trailed 6-4.
The Eagles got one of the runs back in the sixth on Killian Daughtry's pinch-hit RBI single to push the lead back out to a three-run differential.
Jordan Davis took over on the mound for Carson-Newman in the sixth and worked around a lead-off walk with a fly out and two strikeouts. Gardner pitched in the seventh as McDade was hit by a pitch for a 15th time this year to lead off the inning. But Gardner gather himself and struck out the side to end the game for save No. 12 on the season.
Bradley earned the win as he scattered four runs on nine hits, one walk and three strikeouts in his five innings of work to improve to 2-1 on the year. Massey took the loss to fall to 0-4 this season. Willis finished the game throwing 51 pitches over his 3 2/3 innings of work, allowing five hits, two runs, one earned and one walk.