KODAK, Tenn. – Coming off of a win over Newberry, seventh-seeded Carson-Newman collided with top-seeded Catawba in an elimination game late Sunday night of the South Atlantic Conference Baseball Championships after the Eagles had been outscored 45-17 through four meetings in 2017.
Carson-Newman (29-23) scored in seven of the nine innings going 7-for-18 with runners in scoring position to take a 13-8 win over No. 15 Catawba and eliminate the regular season champions.
It is the fourth elimination game that the Eagles have won in the tournament as they advance to take on second-seeded Lincoln Memorial Monday at 1 p.m in a rematch of the championship round in 2013. C-N needs to win twice to capture the crown.
"We hit the ball extremely well," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. "We were able to get some quality pitches and great defense. Offensively we had a lot of guys carrying us. That is one of the best Division II programs not just this year but coach [Jim] Gantt and his staff – that's one of the best teams in the country. We talked about that. They have earned it."
Carson-Newman scored its most runs against Catawba since a 19-6 triumph over the 14th-ranked Indians on April 18, 2004 at Mossy Creek.
Seven different Eagles had multi-hit efforts as Greg Jones (Maryville, Tenn.) went 3-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored and Cade Snapp (Seymour, Tenn.) drove in three with a pair of hits and two runs scored.
"It's just this team," Snapp said. "This team is awesome. We never give up and are always fighting. The whole mentality that this team has is just awesome. Griff talked me all day and told me to keep battling and keep everything the same way I have done it all season and it will happen for me and it did."
Ryan Addington (Cincinnati, Ohio) started the game with a high fly ball to center field that the Catawba outfielders lost in the lights as the senior ended up at second base. Eric Lynch (Boonton, N.J.) followed with a bouncing base hit through the right side of the infield to open the scoring. Two batters later, Jones laced a single to right field to score Lynch. The next batter, Snapp hammered a screamer down the line in left field for a two-run home run to put the Eagles on top 4-0 before the Indians came to the plate.
Two singles and a walk loaded the bases for the Indians in the bottom of the second inning. Malachi Hanes smacked a base hit into the right-center field alley to plate a pair. An RBI ground out from Cameron Morrison and a sacrifice fly to right field by Luke Setzer tied the score at four.
Carson-Newman regained the lead when Jones pounded his second home run of the day on a 1-1 pitch with one out in the top of the third inning over the fence in right-center field to make it a 5-4 game.
The Indians tied the score at five in the bottom of the third inning as Chance Bowden yanked a double inside of the third base bag on a ball that rattled around in the corner allowing Kyle Smith to score from first base.
Brendan Campbell (Yardley, Pa.) dropped down a perfect drag bunt single up the first-base line with one out in the top of the fourth inning. The left fielder came around to score four pitches later as Jimmy Rice (Middlesex, N.J.) ripped a double to the wall in left field putting the Eagles back on top at 6-5.
The advantage for Griffin's group stretched to three runs in the top of the fifth inning as Snapp rocketed a single back through the box and Trever Lee (Garner, N.C.) followed suit with an RBI single to center field to extend the edge to 8-5.
Addington singled to lead off the sixth inning, stole second and advanced to third base on a base hit to right field from Lynch. Paul Kirby (Goodlettsville, Tenn.) hit into a double play that scored Addington and extending the lead to 9-5.
The Eagles scored three times in the seventh inning as two errors and four walks helped Carson-Newman take its largest lead of the night at 12-6. With two outs, Lynch hit a rocket off of the glove of Bowden at first base that stayed on the infield. A run scored and Bowden tossed the ball past Bryan Blanton covering the bag to score a second runner. A two-out bases loaded walk to Jones capped the scoring.
Rice added to the Carson-Newman lead with a run-producing base hit to score Brett Langhorne (Mechiancsville, Va.) with two outs in the top of the eighth stretching the lead to 13-6.
Jeremy Simpson added an RBI single to center field and a sacrifice fly from Kyle Smith preceded a fielder's choice to close the game.
The Eagles used six pitchers in the game as Hunter Dodson (Huntersville, N.C.) improved to 3-0 earning the victory while Ryan Eberle (Cookeville, Tenn.) picked up his first save of his career tossing the final 3 1/3 innings.
Bowden went 3-for-6 on the day and Jacob Nester was the only other player on Catawba to notch multiple hits going 3-for-3 and reaching base safely five times.
Blanton, the nation's leader in saves, walked four and allowed four earned runs on six hits with a pair of strikeouts out of the bullpen.
Monday's tilt will be broadcast on cneagles.com/live starting at 12:45 p.m. on the Eagle Sports Network with video and audio streams available.
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