KODAK, Tenn. – In the 2019 Pilot Flying J South Atlantic Conference Baseball Championships, Anderson scored early and often eliminating Carson-Newman with a 9-4 victory Thursday night at Smokies Stadium.
"I think it started on the mound," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. "Will Gee was right on. He was locked in. He got a couple balls where he jammed up some guys. It felt he was really confident about his stuff. They had two assists from the outfield, hitting and putting balls in play. They had the momentum and we had to change it up.
"We had a couple opportunities to score some runs but you could just sense we were climbing up the stairs and couldn't get to the top of it. It's one of those dreams and we needed something really big to happen. It just wasn't our night."
Carson-Newman (31-18) had won nine in-a-row, its longest winning streak in three years, losing for the first time since April 6. The Eagles drop back-to-back games against Anderson (20-29) for the first time since the 2013-14.
Greg Valentine (Knoxville, Tenn.) retired the first two batters of the game on four pitches before three-straight two-out singles brought in the game's first run courtesy of a knock to left-center field by Brandon Odachowski.
With one out in the top of the third inning, two singles sandwiched around a hit batter loaded the bases for Jackson Strange. On a 1-0 pitch, the right-handed hitter flared a base hit into right-center field to bring home a pair and stretch the lead to 3-0.
The tale sounded similar in the fourth frame with Anderson loading the bases with one man down for Dillon Carpenter. The left-handed hitter ripped a ball to the wall in right-center field to clear the bases and expand the bulge to 6-0.
Carson-Newman strung together a two-out rally of its own in the bottom of the fifth inning. Back-to-back base hits put two on for Micah Genter (Jasper, Tenn.). The sophomore worked a seven-pitch at-bat before floating a ball to right-center field just out of the reach of Cody Adams to bring a pair. Ethan Goforth (Blacksburg, Va.) split the alley in right to get Genter lead to trim the deficit to 6-3. Tyler Thompson (Gallatin, Tenn.) singled to left but Matthew Overton threw out Goforth at the plate the end the inning.
Overton turned his defense to offense in the top of the seventh inning launching a 0-1 offering out of the park to the opposite field in left to push the lead to 7-3. It was his third homer of the year and second against the Eagles.
Eight men stepped to the plate in the top of the eighth inning for the Trojans as C-N used five different pitchers. Despite leaving the bases loaded, the Trojans scored twice thanks to a two-out single to left field by Jackson Strange and a bases loaded walk to Overton to expand the lead to 9-3.
An RBI single from Brendan Campbell (Yardley, Pa.) brought in a run for the Eagles in the eighth but it was the third-straight frame that C-N stranded two men aboard.
On the night, the Eagles stranded eight men on base going 4-for-14 with runners in scoring position including just one of their last nine. Goforth and Thompson each had a pair of hits in the game. Genter led the team by going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. He finished the season 10-for-14 at the plate against the Trojans with seven RBIs and four runs scored.
In the record books, Valentine finished his career with 92 appearances and 19 wins to hold the program record for career appearances, a mark that is the high-water mark among active Division II players. His eight wins in 2019 were good for sixth on the single-season list.
Thompson reset the program's Division II record for batting average in a season hitting .438 for the season besting the prior record of .414 set by Shap Stiles in 1999. It was the highest average by a SAC player since Shane Billings hit .444 in 2016.
Goforth finished the year with 70 runs scored on the season for the third-highest scoring season by a C-N player and most since Jim Higgins tied the high mark for a year in 2002 with 73. He was also hit a pitch 22 times posting a new single-season high.
Matt Bradley (Talbott, Tenn.) finished the year with eight saves on the season, a mark that is good for fourth on the year behind a trio of double-digit seasons.
As a team, the pitching staff struck out 409 on the year, a number that was good for the second-highest for a campaign. The team had 15 saves, the second-most for a year behind the 2002 tally of 16.
Carpenter reached base six times in the game and finished the season 11-for-16 against the Eagles with nine RBIs of the team's 29 over four games. Four other players had two pokes with Strange driving in three runs.
Will Gee took home his fifth win of the year firing six innings scattering nine hits and a walk while giving up three earned runs and punching out four. Christian Hendrix and Lucas Smith gave up one run over the final three innings with four strikeouts.
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