Catawba's bats too much for C-N in doubleheader sweep

VIDEO: Tom Griffin Interview

SALISBURY, N.C.— A pair of impressive offensive performances propelled the Catawba College Catawba Indians to a double header sweep of the Carson-Newman Eagles, taking game one 14-2 and game two 10-6 at Newman Park in Salisbury, N.C. on Saturday afternoon.

"Here's the bottom line: this weekend was atrocious," said Carson-Newman baseball coach Tom Griffin. "It was completely my fault. The guys weren't prepared in any facet of the game. Jim Gantt, his staff completely outcoached me and our guys are completely unprepared right now to play the game of baseball when it comes to the mentality and, in some aspects, the fundamentals."

Paul Kirby (Goodlettsville, Tenn.) ended the day as one the few bright spots for the visitors. He started both contests and totaled three hits, all for extra bases.

Joe Selitto (Newton, N.J.) also had himself a solid day at the plate. In four at-bats, he rapped out three hits and picked up three RBIs.

Gooch Greer started the second game and went 2-for-3 with a double, knocking in a run and scoring twice.

Game 1: Catawba 14, Carson-Newman 2

Though the Eagles pushed across two runs in the ninth inning off of three hits, C-N fell in lopsided fashion to Catawba in game one.

As was the case in game one of the series, Carson-Newman had no problem putting a base runner on in the top of the first as Eric Lynch (Boonton, N.J.) walked on five pitches from Indians' starter Nick Coble. However, the threat came to an end two batters later when Lynch was thrown out at second base trying to swipe a bag by Catawba catcher Zach Almond.

Kyle Cagle's (Fairview, N.C.) day on the mound did not get off to a good start as the freshman yielded two walks and a two-run home run to the first three batters faced on the afternoon. Following a walk to the leadoff man Ben Bomberger, Luke Setzer hit his SAC-leading seventh home run of the season off the top of the center field wall.

Another walk a batter later put Almond on first, but a slick 5-4-3 double play ball hit to the Eagles' third baseman Brett Langhorne enabled Cagle to get two quick outs in the first. Two more hits followed to put an Indian on first and second base with two outs and both were driven in with a two-run double off the bat of Kyle Smith. A second consecutive double by Jeremy Simpson brought in Smith with the fifth run of the first. In all, the Indians brought nine men to the plate in the first to tally five runs off five hits.

C-N sparked some momentum going into the second inning that followed as Kirby doubled off the scoreboard in left field to put the leadoff man aboard. Greg Jones (Maryville, Tenn.) walked to put two Eagles on the base paths, but Brendan Campbell (Yardley, Pa.), Jimmy Rice (Middlesex, N.J.) and Hunter Wood (College Grove, Tenn.) struck out consecutively to end the threat.

The Indians put two runners in scoring position in their half of the second. Cagle buckled down to punch out Coble for the second out of the inning, but a two-run single off the bat of Chance Bowden brought in both Setzer and Almond to increase the lead to 7-0 after two innings complete. 

In the bottom of the third, Bryce Fowler reached on an error and then made it to third base on a bunt single from Simpson two batters later. Fowler came around to score on an RBI single from Jonathan Raper before Bomberger belted a three-run round tripper to bring the score to 11-0 with one away.

The Indians added on to their lead in the bottom of the seventh after runners reached second and third with only one out. Simpson stepped to the plate and tripled down the right field line to bring in both runners for his third RBI of the game. The short stop tagged up and scored a batter later following a sacrifice fly from Raper to make the score 14-0 after seven.

Dom Leo (Knoxvile, Tenn.) finally put Carson-Newman on the scoreboard with a solo home run in the ninth. The sophomore took a 1-2 fastball over the center field fence for the Eagles lone run of the game. Joe Selitto (Newton, N.J.) followed three batters later with an RBI single to left field.

Coble (1-0) picked up the win after tossing five innings of one-hit baseball. The right-hander exited the contest just prior to the start of the sixth inning after allowing only five base runners. Nick Borgen and Will Hornsley combined to throw the final four innings.

Taking the loss for Carson-Newman was Cagle (0-2) after pitching only two innings of seven-run ball with three walks. Greg Valentine's (Knoxville, Tenn.) service in relief went for 4.2 innings with six runs given up. Austin Conner (Sevierville, Tenn.) also logged 1.1 innings of scoreless work in the loss.    

The Eagles tallied only five hits in the contest as both Kirby and Lynch doubled while Leo touched them all. Selitto also drove in a run in the ninth on a single to left. Catawba, on the other hand, witnessed 3-for-4 days from both Bomberger and Simpson with a combined six RBIs between the two. The former along with Setzer went yard in the win for the Indians.


Game 2: Catawba, Carson-Newman

Catawba again seized the early advantage when a second inning single by Chance Bowden was followed by a double off the center field wall by Malachi Hanes. Bowden came all the way around from first and Hanes later came across on a single by Raper, giving the Indians an early 2-0 lead.

The Indians increased their lead to 3-0 in the third thanks to singles by Setzer, Almond and Coble, the latter of which scored Setzer from third.

Carson-Newman erased that lead in the fourth, when a double by Kirby, a hit batter and a single by Greer loaded the bases. Joe Selitto lined a single into left for one run and Jordan Hinshaw skied a sacrifice fly into center added a second. When Ryan Addington (Cincinnati, Ohio) roped a single through the middle, Greer scored from second to draw the Eagles even.

Unfortunately for coach Griffin's crew, Catawba had an answer. With two outs, Simpson grounded a single through the right side and took second on a passed ball. He moved to third on an error and a wild pitch by starter Ryan Eberle (Cookeville, Tenn.) (1-3) allowed the shortstop to trot home with the go-ahead tally. Almond followed with a double into the left field corner that drove in another run and a single by Coble chased home two more. An infield hit packed the sacks again and the frame's final run came in on a wild pitch.

Despite the deficit, the Eagles refused to fold. A lead-off double by Kirby was followed by another two-base hit by Jones, scoring Kirby. Greer brought in Jones with the team's third consecutive double and Selitto proceeded to single, allowing Greer to dent home plate and make the score 8-6.

The Eagles could draw no closer, however. The home team stretched their lead back to three a half-inning later, thanks to a Simpson walk, a Setzer single and an RBI safety by Smith. A sacrifice fly by Raper in the sixth finished off the scoring.

Bryan Blanton earned his third save of 2017 with two innings of shutout relief. He retired C-N in order in the eighth and concluded the day with a scoreless ninth.

Connor Johnson record just one out for Catawba but was credited with the victory, improving his record to 2-1.

The next time Carson-Newman takes the field in on Tuesday, when they welcome the King (Tenn.) Tornado to Mossy Creek. The scheduled first pitch time is 2 p.m.