KODAK, Tenn. – Seventh-seeded Carson-Newman committed seven errors leading to seven runs as No. 2 seed Lincoln Memorial won a rematch of the 2013 South Atlantic Conference Baseball Championships earning a 9-4 victory over the Eagles Monday afternoon at Smokies Stadium.
"It's tough when you have to say good-bye to 14 seniors," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. "When the last game happens that's when it really hits you that it's over for them. You have to congratulate Lincoln Memorial. Coach [Jeff] Sziksai has a great team. It was a tough day for us as far as the baseball end.
"The fact that you are a seven seed and you beat the teams to get to championship Monday. That is a great run. The baptisms, the community service, the impressions we left on people and our grade-point average are the mark that they left with the program."
Lincoln Memorial (33-17) clinches its second league title while Carson-Newman (29-24) sees its bid to be the lowest seeded group to win the conference tournament come to a close. A top four seed wins for the 25th time in 27 tries in the league championships.
The Eagles are now 52-42 all-time in the league tournament and their record falls to 10-8 in tournament affairs played in the Volunteer State.
The Railsplitters have now won eight straight contests against the Eagles dating back to their last setback on March 1, 2014.
Ryan Addington (Cincinnati, Ohio) flared a base hit into left field on the first pitch in the last of inning number one. After a sacrifice bunt and a punch out, the senior was standing on second base with two outs. Greg Jones (Maryville, Tenn.) lined a two-out single to center field to put the Eagles on top 1-0.
Timmy Wages singled to left field with one out in the top of the second inning and Muta Crusoe reached on an infield single to shortstop two batters later. A passed ball put the runners in scoring position with two outs. Tyler Adams hit a smash to third base that bounced off of Brett Langhorne (Mechiancsville, Va.) into left field to plate a pair and give LMU at 2-1 edge.
Lincoln Memorial padded its lead in the top of the fifth frame scoring twice to go on top 4-1 courtesy of three errors by C-N. Langhorne could not handle a rocket to third base that scored Seth Hunt. On a bouncer to first base, Paul Kirby (Goodlettsville, Tenn.) mishandled the ball and Eric Lynch (Boonton, N.J.) tried to slide to grab the ball but did not field it cleanly to allow Mason Ewers to score from second base.
With two outs and no one on base, Lynch drew a walk. Kirby hit a high fly ball to left field that Ewers lost in the sun allowing Lynch to score from first base and Kirby to end up at second. Jones ripped a base hit through the right side of the infield to plate Kirby and make it a one-run game. Cade Snapp (Seymour, Tenn.) singled to left field and Langhorne hit a ball back up the middle for a run-scoring knock to even the tally at four.
The Railsplitters score five unanswered runs to respond to the C-N comeback scoring in each the sixth, seventh and eighth innings as the Eagles committed three additional errors. A two-run single to right field by Russell Clark to right field capped a three-run sixth. RBI ground outs in the seventh and eight innings made it a 9-4 affair.
Pitching on three days of rest, Will Gardner (Morristown, Tenn.) took the loss spinning six innings of six-hit baseball allowing seven runs, one earned on four walks and two strikeouts.
Jones tallied his a three-hit day driving in a pair of teammates as Snapp and Langhorne each collected two knocks.
Crusoe went 3-for-4 and scored three times while Clark drove in a pair with two RBIs. Timmy Wages was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player going 7-for-15 in the championships with six RBIs and six runs scored over four games.
To close his career Addington tallied 84 hits in 2017 to rank seventh in a single season in the Division II era while his .393 batting average is good for ninth. His 19 doubles were eighth and his five triples were the eighth-most. The senior scored 60 times to crack 10th.
Gardner fired five complete games on the year to join a contingent of six players with a quintet of hurlers that went the distance in a season.
Greg Valentine (Knoxville, Tenn.) made 26 appearances in 2017 to pull into a four-way tie for sixth in games tossed in a singular year.