Bradley slams door as Eagles secure best start in 20 years

VIDEO: Game Highlights

VIDEO: Tom Griffin Interview

VIDEO: Tyler Shaver Interview

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – For the fifth time this year, Matt Bradley tallied a save stranding the bases loaded in the ninth as Carson-Newman notched its eighth win in nine tries this year with a 9-5 triumph over King Thursday afternoon at the Silver Diamond Baseball Complex.

"It was great to see Tyler Shaver, a freshman from Jefferson County with a really solid effort," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. "We watched him grow up. He comes from an outstanding baseball program kind of like Matt Bradley. What Bradley did on the tail end and how he is closing stuff is really effective. Our bullpen was very effective.

"I told [King coach Blaine Brown] that was a good ball game. That was a good midweek game that could have gone either way. There was solid defense, made big pitches, guys got big hits. That was just a solidly played games by both programs."

Carson-Newman (8-1) has not been 8-1 to start a campaign since doing so in 1999 with its fifth win in five tries at home on the year. The Eagles snap a three-game losing streak to King (3-4) in the series to improve to 19-9 against the Tornado.

Tyler Shaver (Dandridge, Tenn.) had allowed one hit and retired five straight when Tony Valdes stepped to the dish with two outs in the top of the third. The King lead-off man launched a ball that cleared the fence in straightaway center field for his third homer for the year to start the scoring.

The Eagles loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the third tying the game on a bases loaded walk to Brendan Campbell (Yardley, Pa.). Kilian Daughtry (Simpsonville, S.C.) broke a 0-12 string at the plate by lining a single to right field to plate a pair. Mike Wroth (Chicopee, Mass.) singled to left field and Alan Silva (Sevierville, Tenn.) hit a sacrifice fly to right field to cap the five-run frame.

Ethan Goforth (Blacksburg, Va.) was hit by a pitch to start the bottom of the fourth. He stole second, moved to third on a ground out to first base and scored on a ground out to third to stretch the bulge to 6-1.

A base hit to center and a double with one out started a rally for King in the top of the sixth. Hunter Barbour drilled a 0-2 offering to the gap in right center to plate the duo before scoring on a base hit to right by David Carnicella cutting the deficit to two at 6-4.

A pair of sophomore outfielders hit back-to-back home runs to lead off the bottom of the seventh inning to get the lead to four at 8-4. Tyler Thompson (Gallatin, Tenn.) crushed a no-doubter to left-center field on a 0-1 offering for his second of the season. Jordan Griffin (Ellersie, Ga.) followed by sending a 2-1 delivery over the left-field wall for his first roundtripper since April 17, 2018, a string of 48 at-bats.

Two straight one-out singles to left field with one out set the stage for Malik Kyle (Jefferson City, Tenn.) in the bottom of the eighth. The left-handed hitter pulled a rocket through the right side of the infield to score Micah Genter (Jasper, Tenn.) and get the margin back to five runs, 9-4.

The Tornado mounted a charge in the top of the ninth. Two walks, an RBI single to right and a walk loaded the bases to bring the tying run to the dish. Once again, Bradley was summoned from the bullpen notching two straight swinging strikeouts to secure his fifth save of the year.

For the sixth time this year, the team did not produce more hits than runs with nine knocks. Goforth and Kyle each had two hits with Thompson and Daughtry tallying a pair of RBIs each.

Shaver earned his first-career win in his second appearance firing 5 1/3 frames on the rubber with four earned runs on five hits and one walk with five punch outs. The bullpen combined for 3 2/3 stanzas yielding one run with six K's.

"We have worked all fall for this a team and as pitchers," Shaver said. "It just feels good to come out and prove what all of the hard work we have done. Locating my fastball early was my biggest thing and my slider for the strikeout pitch."

Kevin Barbato and Austin Meyer each had two hits for the Tornado as Meyer also added a pair of walks to reach base four times. Four of the five hurlers for King allowed at least one run.

The Eagles open a four-game series with Northwood on Friday afternoon at 1 p.m. hosting the Timberwolves for the fourth consecutive season.

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