DAHLONEGA, Ga. – North Georgia scored four runs off of Carson-Newman relievers and the Eagles mustered just three hits as the Nighthawks captured the 2017 season opener 6-4 at Bob Stein Stadium Friday afternoon.
Carson-Newman (0-1) falls in a year's opening game for the ninth time in 12 tries under coach Tom Griffin. The Eagles are now 11-17 in cork poppers since the 1990 season.
North Georgia (1-0) earns a win over C-N for the sixth straight outing with its last setback to the Eagles coming on March 14, 2012, a 7-6 contest.
"I thought it was a well-played game," Griffin said. "I thought the game came down to two pitches that they were able to execute big hits on with men in scoring position. They battled. That's baseball. Defensively we were very solid. Our guys were involved in the game. It doesn't show with three hits but I thought we had good at-bats during the game."
Senior Ryan Addington (Cincinnati, Ohio) started the game with an infield single to the right side of the infield as no one covered first base for the Nighthawks. Following a strikeout junior Cade Snapp (Seymour, Tenn.) stung the first pitch he saw in 2017 well over the fence in left field to give C-N a 2-0 lead.
Devin Gearhart started the bottom of the first frame with a base hit in between the shortstop and third baseman before being sacrificed to second base. Michael Gouge drew a walk and the clean-up batter, Trevor Sams, whacked a 1-1 offering just out of the reach of Addington in left-center field to plate a pair and tie the score at two.
The first two C-N batters were retired in the top of the fifth before Addington was hit by a pitch. On a pick-off attempt with the senior caught in between first and second, Sams tossed the ball into left field for an error. On a 2-2 count, Dallas Deavers uncorked a wild pitch allowing the Eagles to regain the lead at 3-2.
Carson-Newman starting pitcher Ryan Eberle (Cookeville, Tenn.) walked two of the first three batters of the bottom of the sixth before the Eagles went to the bullpen calling upon sophomore right-hander Greg Valentine (Knoxville, Tenn.). The hurler induced a ground out that but it allowed the runners to move into scoring position with two outs. Steven Tomlinson dug in and pushed a 0-2 delivery into right-center field to give North Georgia its first lead of the game at 4-3.
After the first batter was retired in the last of the seventh, Conner Hoover pulled a single into shallow right field and scored on a Michael Gouge home run to left-center field on a 1-2 hanging breaking ball to extend the lead to 6-3.
Senior Paul Kirby (Goodlettsville, Tenn.) started the top of the ninth with a double into the gap in left-center field and scored following a pair of ground outs. His hit snapped a string of 23 straight outs recorded by Nighthawks pitching without a hit yielded.
Addington extended his hitting streak dating back to 2016 to six games going 9-for-21 during that span.
Sams went 2-for-3 with a walk and a pair of runs driven in and Hoover was the only other player in the game with multiple hits going 2-for-2 with a walk and a run scored.
Game two of the series is scheduled for Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. The game will air on the Eagle Sports Network at cneagles.com/live beginning at 1:50 p.m. with "The Appalachian Electric Cooperative Countdown to First Pitch".
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