SALISBURY, N.C. – John Sharpe racked up a career-high four hits but 18th-ranked Catawba scratched across enough runs to take down Carson-Newman 5-2 to open a three-game South Atlantic Conference series Saturday at Newman Park.
"We pitched it well," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. "Too many mistakes both on offense and defense that you can't afford to do against a good team that capitalizes on those mistakes. Poor execution on those two sides. We have to learn how to compete and have a little more fire, focus and intent moving forward."
Carson-Newman (18-8, 2-4) had won two of the last three meetings against a ranked Catawba (21-7, 7-3) team but has lost 20 of the 25 overall outings dropping the 107th all-time meeting.
The home club broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the second stanza. Hunter Shepherd reached on an infield single to start the frame and moved to third on two ground outs. Henderson Lentz hit a grounder to third that Mike Wroth (Chicopee, Mass.) was unable to handle it allowing Shepherd to score on an error. After a base knock, Heath Mitchem dribbled a single through the left side of the infield to make it a 2-0 contest.
C-N pulled within one thanks to a two-out rally in the top of the third. Three singles in-a-row loaded the sacks as Wroth made amends by drawing his second walk of the game to score John Sharpe (Franklin, Tenn.) flipping the tally to 2-1.
Catawba added a pair in the bottom of the fifth to push the margin to three at 4-1. Jackson Raper tripled down the right-field line to start the inning scoring on a sacrifice fly to right field by Cameron Morrison. Shepherd blasted a home run to left field five pitches later on a 1-2 offering.
Ethan Goforth (Blacksburg, Va.) doubled to left and stole third base to open the top of the seventh inning before coming across the dish on a base hit to center field by Sharpe cutting the deficit to 4-2.
A hit batter and a walk started the bottom of the seventh for the Indians. A fly out and a walk had runners standing at first and second base with two outs. Henderson Lentz trickled a ball through the left side of the infield to bring in Morrison and get to the final score of 5-2.
The Eagles outhit the Indians 11-9 but C-N committed three errors. The top four in Griffin's lineup had nine of the 11 knocks as the bottom five combined to go 2-for-17 at the dish. Malik Kyle (Jefferson City, Tenn.) and Tyler Thompson (Gallatin, Tenn.) each had two hits.
Greg Valentine (Knoxville, Tenn.) suffered his first loss of the season and just third of his career working 5 2/3 innings giving up four runs, two earned, on seven hits and a walk while striking out three.
Bryan Ketchie improved to 7-0 on the mound for the home side firing six innings scattering nine hits, two earned runs and two walks while punching out five. DJ Laxton yielded two pokes over three shutout frames for the save.
Mitchem went 3-for-5 with an RBI from the top of the lineup while Shepherd went 2-for-3 crossing the plate twice.
The two sides close out the series Sunday afternoon with a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. Follow along with the contest by following @CNathletics on Twitter.
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