Three-run eighth solidifies C-N’s comeback

Three-run eighth solidifies C-N’s comeback

VIDEO: Game Highlights

VIDEO: Tom Griffin Interview

VIDEO: Tyler Thompson Interview

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Trailing the entire game, Carson-Newman produced clutch hitting in the bottom of the eighth plating three runs to upend Tusculum 4-2 in the first game of the South Atlantic Conference series Friday at the Silver Diamond Baseball Complex.

"That game will test you because it's going to get frustrating because that young man on the mound is doing really well," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. "You can almost feel like you have no hope. We talked about after the game that our bench and our hitters had the sense of you have to keep it close. You have to stick with it. We couldn't afford to let it get too far out of hand and that's where the pitching came in. I'm really proud of the guys. Today was a really good example to stick with it and think about the next pitch."

The Eagles have won five in-a-row over the Pioneers marking the first such streak since winning eight consecutive affairs from 1997-2000. Carson-Newman (20-10, 3-6) snaps a six-game SAC losing streak handing Tusculum (18-11, 7-3) its fourth loss over the last 22 games.

A one-out triple off of the fence in left-center field by Seth DeHaven forced the C-N to bring the infield in on the grass. Jaden Steagall hit a grounder to Micah Genter (Jasper, Tenn.) at shortstop. He threw in the dirt home but the tag was not applied scoring DeHaven to open the scoring.

Coming off of his only 1-2-3 inning of the game, Greg Valentine (Knoxville, Tenn.) got ahead 0-1 on Daulton Martin. The next pitch was a slider that the left-handed hitter turned on hitting it out of the park to right field to push the lead to 2-0 in the sixth.

Ethan Goforth (Blacksburg, Va.) drew a walk to open the bottom of the sixth moving to second base on a wild pitch. After a strikeout, Malik Kyle (Jefferson City, Tenn.) split the gap in left field to bring in Goforth pulling the Eagles within a run at 2-1. An infield single by Tyler Thompson (Gallatin, Tenn.) put two on base but a fly out and strikeout left them stranded.

Goforth ignited the comeback in the eighth inning with an infield single to shortstop. John Sharpe (Franklin, Tenn.) pounded a towering chopper into left field. A sacrifice bunt by Kyle put the runners in scoring position. On a 0-1 pitch, Thompson flipped a single into shallow left-center field to bring in Goforth. Jarel McDade picked up the ball and threw errantly to third base as the ball rolled into the dugout to score the go-ahead run. Michael Wroth (Chicopee, Mass.) added a sacrifice fly to left field to stretch the lead to 4-2.

"I was trying to put a good swing on it," Thompson said. "I wanted to put it in play and give us a chance and not try to do too much. When you put it in play, good things will happen."

Hunter Long (Powell, Tenn.) secured the victory on the mound allowing a pair of two-out singles getting a leaping catch from Genter at shortstop to end the game.

On the day, Griffin's group was outhit 12-7 but the Pioneers went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position. Thompson was the lone Eagle with a multi-hit game going 2-for-4 on the day with Goforth scoring a pair of runs.

Valentine scattered nine hits over 6 1/3 innings allowing two earned runs and a walk punching out three batters. C-N's bullpen fired 2 2/3 scoreless frames allowing three hits.

Charles Hall entered the game as the nation's leader in strikeouts taking the loss for the first time in eight starts, just the second setback as a team when he started a game. He allowed four runs, three earned on seven hits and two walks while racking up 11 K's.

Martin was one of three players with multiple hits going 3-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored as seven of the nine regulars reached safely at least once on the day.

The two clubs finish off the series Saturday afternoon starting at noon with the first of a doubleheader from the Silver Diamond Baseball Complex. Both affairs air on with the Eagle Sports Network calling the action.

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