Power surge ignites C-N’s opening-day victory

Box Score (PDF)

GAFFNEY, S.C. – Carson-Newman cranked its most home runs in two years as four players went deep in a 9-5 win over Limestone to start the 2019 season Friday evening at Founders FCU Stadium.

"We had a lot of quality at-bats," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. The bullpen was really good. All three of them made big pitches in big spots. Defensively we were good. The effort was off the charts and we had great enthusiasm. We had the same mindset and temperament from the first inning through the ninth."

The Eagles blasted four home runs on the day producing their most in a contest since hitting five against Northwood on Feb. 17, 2017, a span of 95 games and 715 days. The four homers are the most away from the Silver Diamond Baseball Complex since Feb. 17, 2010 when the Eagles launched five bombs in a 17-7 win at Pfeiffer.

With the triumph, Carson-Newman (1-0) starts the year with a win for the first time since Feb. 1, 2014 snapping a four-game losing streak and putting an end to losses in eight of the last nine openers.

It was an ominous beginning to the day in the field as Trace Whetsell cranked the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the first over the left-field fence to put the Saints on top 1-0. After back-to-back singles, Ryan Victory (Brentwood, Tenn.) used a pick off, fielder's choice and fly out to escape the jam.

Jordan Griffin (Ellerslie, Ga.) opened the top of the second with a base hit up the middle. He stole second and two outs later moved to third on a wild pitch. With runners at the corners, Micah Genter (Jasper, Tenn.) knotted the score at one with a liner back up the middle.

Leading off the top of the third, John Sharpe (Franklin, Tenn.) homered for the second straight game against Limestone sending the ball over the left-center field wall to put the Eagles on top 2-1.

The Saints regained the edge in the bottom of the fourth. Two consecutive one-out singles and a sacrifice fly to center by Jeff Towle tied the game. A pair of two-out base hits by Matt Hildebrandt and Channing Painton made it a 3-2 contest.

The lead did not last long as Kilian Daughtry (Simpsonville, S.C.) launched his first-career home run in 50 at-bats sending the ball over the left-field wall to square the tally at three. A single and a walk were sandwiched around a strikeout put two on for Michael Wroth (Chicopee, Mass.). In his debut, the junior blasted a three-run home to left giving C-N a 6-3 advantage.

Hildebrandt pulled the home club within a pair at 6-4 in to bottom of the sixth inning driving a 1-2 offering into the seats in right-center field.

The Eagles again did not waste time to respond. Brendan Campbell (Yardley, Pa.) stepped to the batter's box with two outs and no one on base in the top of the seventh and hit his first home run since April 14, 2017, or 130 at-bats, over the wall in right-center to push the bulge back to three at 7-4.

Malik Kyle (Jefferson City, Tenn.) doubled and Genter walked to start the eighth moving up a bag on a sacrifice bunt. Sharpe found a gap in left field to plate the duo on a double and stretch the margin to 9-4.

Limestone's third homer of the day came in lead-off fashion in the last of the eighth as Towle left the yard to left field making it a 9-5 contest.

Sharpe produced his third-career three-hit day driving in a trio of runs as eight Eagles provided at least one hit, one run and one RBI.

Griffin also had three knocks with Kyle adding a pair while Wroth's three-run homer tied Sharpe for the team lead in run production.

On the rubber, Carson-Newman used four different pitchers with none going longer than Victory's 3 2/3 innings. Matt Bradley (Talbott, Tenn.) earned his second-career save firing the final three stanzas striking out four while allowing a solo home run and two walks.

Luke Friedman (Gilbert, Ariz.) poached the win with 1 1/3 scoreless stanzas as the bullpen allowed two runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings with six punch outs.

Every starter for Limestone had at least one hit in the game as Whetsell, Alex Cornell and Hildebrandt each provided a pair of pokes.

The Eagles and Saints square off with a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon beginning at 1 p.m. from Founders FCU Stadium. Live stats are available with updates on @CNathletics on Twitter.

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