FORREST CITY, N.C. – Dustin Dunagan (Winder, Ga.) pitched a career high 8.1 innings and struck out a career best eight batters to help send Carson-Newman (22-25) into the 2013 Food Lion SAC Championship game with an 8-3 win over Lincoln Memorial (24-24).
The Eagles will player of the 1 p.m. game between Lincoln Memorial and Newberry for the tournament crown at approximately 4 p.m.
Carson-Newman scored seven of its eight runs with two outs on the board and closed with seven unanswered to take the 8-3 win.
The fact that C-N will play for a SAC title in the same season in which it lost a school-record 14-game losing streak is something that Carson-Newman head coach Tom Griffin has just had to put to faith.
"It's God's way on this whole thing," Griffin said. "That's the thing our whole staff has tried to emphasize, that it's life lessons for us. And it's not about the wins and losses, it's about how we handle things in both victory and defeat. These guys have stayed with our process throughout all the ups and downs."
Bo Ausmus (Jefferson City, Tenn.) had a homer and two RBI to lead the Carson-Newman attack. Joe Tipton (Dandridge, Tenn.) also homered, scoring two runs for the Eagles. Cody Fox (Seymour, Tenn.) was two-for-four with two RBI and two runs scored while Kevin Franchetti (Highland, Ind.) went two-for-four with an RBI for the Eagles.
Curt Fuqua had a homer and two RBI to lead the Lincoln Memorial attack. Nick Pressley was two-for-four with an RBI for the Railsplitters.
LMU took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on Pressley's RBI double off the wall in left. The Eagles answered in the bottom of the frame, tying the game on an RBI single from Evan Jurjevic (New Carlisle, Ind.).
Lincoln Memorial took a 3-1 lead in the third when Fuqua connected on his eighth homer of the year, a two-run shot over the 25-foot wall in left field.
Carson-Newman cut the lead to one in the fourth on an RBI double from Zach Long (Jefferson City, Tenn.).
The Eagles plated five runs in the fifth to take a 7-3 lead. The first two hitters of the inning were retired via a lineout and groundout. Tipton connected on his first homer of the year to tie the game at three. Ausmus put the Eagles on top with an RBI triple to right field. Fox added a two-run single, while an RBI double from Franchetti put Carson-Newman on top by four.
Ausmus connected on his eight homer of the year to start the seventh, a solo shot to left to make the final margin 8-3.
Dunagan picked up his first win of the season, tossing 147 pitches in 8 1/3 innings of work, allowing three runs on seven hits while striking out eight to move to 1-5 on the season.
"He did a great job of recovering from that two-run third," Griffin said. "It's been a tough year for him, but for him to do so well here – he earned his keep today throwing a lot of pitches and locating pitches as a power guy."
Patrick Morris took the loss, falling to 5-2. He allowed seven runs on eight hits in 4 2/3 innings, striking out three and walking two.
C-N has won four SAC tournament championships, its last coming in 2007.