JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – A pair of big frames and lights out pitching paced Carson-Newman to 8-2 and 5-2 victories over West Liberty to lead the Eagles to a 7-0 start to the season Sunday afternoon at the Silver Diamond Baseball Complex.
"We got the lead and it comes down to pitching and defense," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. "We have been playing really good defense. I thought Chris Caldwell was really good behind the dish every game he caught not only receiving and blocking but he had a big caught stealing. Guys that were on the mound did what they were supposed to do. You have to be in the strike zone. Two out of three pitches need to be in the strike zone. Sixty-eight percent of balls put in play are outs. Seven percent of 0-0 pitches are singles. We reminded them, pitch to contact. You have a pretty good defense here."
Ten of the team's 13 runs scored on the day came in two innings as Carson-Newman (7-0) continued its best start in the modern era sweeping a series for the second straight weekend.
In the first meeting ever with West Liberty (0-3), the Eagles improve to 11-1 against teams from the Mountain East and extend their home winning streak to nine games.
Game One: CARSON-NEWMAN 8, West Liberty 2 (7)
The Eagles produced the game's first seven runs of the day getting a run in the second on a wild pitch before putting up a six spot in the third. A walk and a base hit opened the third before Kilian Daughtry (Simpsonville, S.C.) punched a base hit into right field to start the scoring in the inning.
After a walk loaded the bases, Mark Treadway (Friendsville, Tenn.) hit a sacrifice fly to right field. One of the four errors in the frame produced the third run of the frame on a liner to third that Bailey McGrath caught and airmailed a potential double play over the first baseman's head. A two-base hit from Chris Caldwell (Seymour, Tenn.) plated Mike Wroth (Chicopee, Mass.). An error and a wild pitch provided the final support to expand the lead to 7-0.
The Hilltoppers produced their lone runs of the game in the fourth getting back-to-back singles to start the stanza. A throwing error brought home Chad Matthus before McGrath trimmed the deficit to 7-2 with a base hit into left field.
Zach Boze (Gallatin, Tenn.) ignited the fifth frame with a five-pitch walk and came in to score on a two-out double by Micah Genter (Jasper, Tenn.) on a flare down the right field line to swell the bulge to 8-2.
Matt Bradley (Talbott, Tenn.) earned his first win of the year punching out eight batters over six innings giving up two earned runs on four hits and a walk.
"I think for this game it was filling up the zone," Bradley said. "I worked with Chris [Caldwell] both games he has caught me and he's done a great job mixing different pitches. I really focused on trying to change speeds more versus last year being a two-pitch guy."
Caldwell finished with a pair of hits while Jordan Griffin (Ellerslie, Ga.) tallied his first two pokes of the year going 2-for-3. The Eagles outhit the Hilltoppers 8-4 on the day.
Sam Aulick allowed seven runs, four earned, while recording a total of eight outs giving up six hits and two walks fanning a pair to take the loss.
GRANDMA!!! GET THE RYE BREAD AND MUSTARD!! IT'S GRAND SALAMI TIME@mikewroth blasts off to put C-N in front.— Carson-Newman Athletics (@CNathletics) February 9, 2020
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Game Two: CARSON-NEWMAN 5, West Liberty 2 (7)
Nick Leonard, West Liberty's starter, retired six of the first eight batters he faced entering the third inning. Three straight singles loaded the base with no one out. Wroth blasted a 1-1 offering over the fence in left for his third-career grand slam to put Griffin's group ahead 4-0.
The Hilltoppers produced in the top of the fourth with Tyler Ramsay starting the inning with a double to left field. After a punch out, Brain Campbell hit an opposite field laser over the wall in right field to slice the deficit in half to 4-2.
C-N played add on in the sixth with Boze starting the inning with an infield dribbler down the third base line. The rookie moved to second base on a ground out and came in to score from second on an error by McGrath to push the margin to three at 5-2.
Hunter Long (Powell, Tenn.), the seventh pitcher of the day, closed the door in the seventh giving up a hit before sealing the deal for his second save of the year.
Of the Eagles' five hits on the day, each came from a different player while West Liberty racked up eight led by pair from Campbell and Jared Houser apiece.
Nick Leonard took the loss yielding four earned runs in three innings giving up four hits and a walk with a punch out.
The Eagles play a pair of midweek games at home this week hosting King on Tuesday at 2 p.m. and Tusculum on Wednesday. Both games will air on the Eagle Sports Network with audio and video streams available on cneagles.com/live.
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