Persistent Eagles overcome deficits to walk-off win over Cobras

VIDEO: Game Highlights

VIDEO: Tom Griffin Interview

VIDEO: John Sharpe Interview

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Facing a three-run deficit in the ninth, Carson-Newman came back to tie the score before overcoming a one-run hole in the 10th for its first walk-off win in three years with a 12-11, 10-inning win over Coker Saturday at the Silver Diamond Baseball Complex.

"We haven't had a walk-off in a while and to have it on senior day was pretty cool," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. "I think today's game we had some sloppiness in certain areas of the game. Bottom line, that's baseball. You aren't going to play perfect baseball. With the mistakes we made, we were still able to come back. A different part of our game was able to overcome the mistakes. Today the offense was able to do that. To see their celebration and joy with their families here, that was tremendous."

With one out in the bottom of the ninth, a walk, an error and a hit batter loaded the bases for the Eagles. Following a pop out, Jordan Griffin (Ellerslie, Ga.) lined a single to left field to bring in a run. Brendan Campbell (Yardley, Pa.) dug in and shoveled a 2-2 pitch past the shortstop into left field to plate a pair and tie the game at 10.

It was the first extra-inning game of the season for Carson-Newman (29-17, 10-11) since the second South Atlantic Conference of the 2018 season against Coker (16-25-1, 7-15) when the Eagles won 7-3 in 10.

Reilly Hall doubled on a 0-2 pitch with two outs in the top of the 10th to give Coker the lead back at 11-10 only to see its defense fumble away the game in the bottom of the 10th.

Mark Treadway (Friendsville, Tenn.) opened the inning with what appeared to be a harmless ground ball to shortstop, but an errant throw and a witty slide allowed him to reach base. Ethan Goforth (Blacksburg, Va.) was hit by a pitch with one out to put the winning run on base.

Tyler Thompson (Gallatin, Tenn.) lined a single past the second baseman and into right-center field to score the tying run. Harrison Morris's throw back to the infield skipped away from the second base bag allowing Goforth to hustle home and provide a walk-off winner.

Saturday was the first walk-off win for the Eagles in three wins when Jimmy Rice had a game-ending single against King on April 5, 2016, a span of 165 games and 1,109 days.

Two-out hitting proved to be a difference maker for C-N as the team went 6-for-13 with two outs scoring eight times.

With one out in the top of the second inning, Gavin Matthews turned on a 2-1 pitch launching it out of the ball park to right-center field for his first home run of the season to put the Cobras ahead 1-0.

Carson-Newman had two base runners through the first three innings entering the bottom of the fourth. Thompson found a pitch he liked on a 1-1 offering blasting it over the wall in left-center field for ninth bomb of the year to tie the tally at one.

Reilly Hall opened the sixth inning with a double off of the wall in left-center field to start the sixth inning. Casey Demko dropped a bunt down right back to the mound but a wild throw that would have nailed the runner at third base rolled to the corner scoring Hall and allowing Demko to get to third base.

Coker starter Jon Koski had retired eight batters in-a-row when John Sharpe (Franklin, Tenn.) ripped a double to right field with two outs. A hit batter and a walk loaded the bases for Alan Silva (Sevierville, Tenn.). The senior stretched his hitting streak to seven games with a base hit through the left side of the infield to plate a pair. The left fielder overran the ball allowing Campbell to race home without a throw and give the Eagles a 4-3 edge.

On a 10-pitch at-bat to start the seventh inning, Grant Thompson started the frame with a hustle double to right-center field against the shifted defense. After moving to third base on a sacrifice bunt, Larry McCabe lined a single into center to bring Thompson home and tie the score at four.

Once again in the seventh inning, the Eagles found success with two outs. Goforth was hit by a 1-2 pitch and stole second base. Thompson followed by ripping a 0-1 delivery to the wall in left field to give the Eagles the lead. Michael Wroth (Chicopee, Mass.) drew a walk to put two men on for Sharpe. The right-handed hitter pulled a base past the third baseman to plate a pair and push the margin to three runs at 7-4.

It was an ominous start to the eighth on an infield pop up that the wind captured and plopped onto the right side of the infield. After a double, a base hit and a sacrifice fly pulled the visitors within a run. The Cobras loaded the bases when McCabe cranked a grand slam to straightaway center field to give Coker the lead back at 10-7 in a six-run eighth.

Thompson led the way for Carson-Newman with three hits, three RBIs and three runs scored in six at-bats including the decisive poke to right field.

Goforth scored three more times to push his named into a tie for fourth on the school's NCAA single-season ledger. Sharpe reached base four times on the day going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored.

"With the wet surface out there, we were trying to put the ball in play," Sharpe said. "Two-out hitting is what a lot of people say win ball games. That's something that we really believe in here. Putting the ball in play and not trying to do too much and see what happens from there."

Dalton Long (Powell, Tenn.) earned his first win since Feb. 10 tossing two innings of relief punching out three batters.

On the Coker side, Thompson had five hits and two runs scored with McCabe going 2-for-6 with five RBIs and two runs. The Cobras outhit the Eagles 17-10 overall on the day but made four errors.

The two sides will play a doubleheader Monday afternoon starting at noon to decide the series. Game coverage will be on with audio and video formats available.

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