February 7, 2012

Koeneman gets fifth year from NCAA; Lifts Eagles with 10th-inning home run, save in win over Lander, 4-2

GREENWOOD, S.C. – After learning he had been given a medical redshirt and a fifth-year of eligibility by the NCAA early in the game, Carson-Newman's Kyle Koeneman (Seymour, Tenn.) came on to hit the game-winning home run and pick up the save in the 10th inning as the Eagles beat Lander, 4-2, on Tuesday afternoon.

Koeneman ripped a go-ahead home run in the top of the 10th and then came on to pitch the bottom of the inning as at Eagles improved to 2-2. Lander falls to 2-2 with the loss.

The Seymour, Tenn. native and Walters State product made his much anticipated, and unexpected, debut after finding out an on-going appeal to the NCAA was settled Tuesday afternoon. He was given a fifth year of eligibility after playing in only 12 games a season ago due to injury. He transferred to C-N from LSU after playing on season for the Tigers following a record-setting junior college career that included leading the nation in home runs as a sophomore.

"I could not be happier for Kyle," Eagle head coach Tom Griffin said after Tuesday's win "He has waited this process out in a first class manner and showed what he can do today. I'm very thankful for all of the people that helped in Kyle's process."

Koeneman missed the Eagles' season opening series at Augusta State (Ga.).

Ryan Fillers (1-1) earned the win for the Eagles, striking out two and allowing two hits in three innings pitched. After hitting the game-winning homer, Koeneman earned the save with one strikeout and one walk.

Lander's Scott Elitzky (1-1) was tagged the losing pitcher after striking out four, walking one, and allowing one earned run on three hits in two innings of work.

For Lander, Jeff May (1-for-3) and Kevin Starr (1-for-1) both doubled.

For Carson-Newman, Koeneman batted 1-for-2, while Cody Fox (1-for-5) and Guymon (2-for-4) both doubled. Lance Rorex and Zach Long both went 2-for-5 and Troy Zawadzki was 2-for-4.

Evan Jurjevic gave Carson-Newman a 1-0 lead in the second inning when he walked, advanced to second on Philip Duncan's sacrifice bunt, to third on a balk and home on Fox's groundout.

"Lots of guys contributed to the win," Griffin added. "Our pitching and defense were solid. And our young guys played key roles in a win against a quality team."

May's two-RBI double to deep left field plated Ian Harvey and AJ Nunziato as Lander came right back in its half of the second to take a 2-1 advantage.

Carson-Newman tied the game in the fifth inning on a rare in the park home run by Zawadski. Zawadski drove the ball to deep centerfield, but Lander's Ian Harvey injured himself on the play when he dove to make the catch and wasn't able to retrieve the ball.

Twice the Lander defense came to rescue in the seventh and ninth innings with bases loaded and one out.

In the seventh, first baseman Jordan Owens nabbed the second out when he stretched long over the Lander dugout fence, then Juan Montana made a diving catch in left field to end the inning.

In the ninth, Elitzky struck out Trace Rogers and Long.

Carson-Newman begins a three-game weekend schedule with North Georgia on Friday at 4 p.m. in Aiken, S.C. The Eagles will face USC Aiken and Davis & Elkins on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. All three games are in Aiken, S.C.