JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman scored early scoring the first three runs of the game and going on top 9-1 after three innings before putting the flames out in the ninth to top No. 1 Tampa 11-7 Saturday afternoon at the Silver Diamond Baseball Complex.
It is the second time in school history that the Eagles take down a team ranked first in the country and first in 1,062 games and 7,583 days when the club beat Florida Southern 4-3 in NCAA South Regional play. Saturday was also the first time in five tries that Carson-Newman (8-3) beat Tampa (5-3) in five tries.
"It starts on the mound without have freebies, attacking the zone and having a plan," Carson-Newman coach Tom Griffin said. "Matt [Bradley] and Harrison [Travis] did that. When you can score first you have a high percentage of winning and [Tyler] Thompson has done a great job of getting us going. Fortunately for us we were able to get a crooked number on the board."
After Matt Bradley (Talbott, Tenn.) retired the side in order in the top of the first, the Eagles pierced the scoreboard. Each of the first three men reached base with Tyler Thompson (Gallatin, Tenn.) scoring on a wild pitch. Michael Wroth (Chicopee, Mass.) flared a base hit to left field and Zach Boze (Gallatin, Tenn.) hit a sacrifice fly to put the home crew ahead 3-0 after an inning.
The Spartans scored in the top of the second on a ground out to second base before C-N threw up five more runs in the bottom of the inning. Thompson opened the scored with a base hit to left field. A two-run single to center from Gunnar Ricketts (Hixson, Tenn.) and a two-run double off of the left-field wall from Boze ballooned the bulge to 8-1.
Nothing like hot-hitting on a Saturday ��⚾️— Carson-Newman Athletics (@CNathletics) February 15, 2020
The Eagles go up 7⃣ on the top team in the nation thanks to @zboze32
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With two outs and no one on base in the bottom of the third, Micah Genter (Jasper, Tenn.) cranked the first pitch over the wall in left field for the first home run of his career in 316 at-bats to swell the margin to 9-1.
"It felt great," Genter said. "Me and Mark Treadway had been in a race for our first ones and I beat him in that one. We were looking to hunt fastballs and I got one on the inner half and I was able to get it out and keep it fair."
Josh Rulli blasted a solo home run for the second straight day on the first pitch with one out in the seventh inning. Three batters later, with a runner aboard, Jose Cadenas left the yard with a two-run blast to left field to slice the margin to five at 9-4.
With two outs and a man on base in the seventh, Henry Jackson (Waxhaw, N.C.) pulled a grounder through the left side of the infield to get one run back. Jordan Griffin (Ellerslie, Ga.) hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth to make it an 11-4 game going into the ninth.
Tampa refused to go quietly scoring three times on a walk to Nick Derr and singles from Dan Sullivan and Rulli loading the bases with one out bringing the tying run to the plate. Mikey Navarette fell behind 0-2 and hit a tailor-made double play ball as C-N turned a 6-4-3 twin-killing to seal the win.
Bradley improved to 2-0 on the season firing 6 2/3 strong stanzas giving up four earned runs, three of which came in the seventh, allowing six hits and two walks while punching out five batters. He retired the side in order four times.
"Matt Bradley was unbelievable," Griffin said. "His mentality really set the tone. He was attacking. There was a look on his face, his body language, of enjoying the moment but really competing at the same time."
Four Eagles produced a multi-hit day lead by Thompson at the top of the lineup with a 3-for-4 afternoon. Ricketts went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Boze drove in three and Genter finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored.
Sullivan produced a second straight three-hit day going 3-for-4 while Rulli drove in three for the Spartans. Jordan Leasure took the loss giving up eight earned runs on eight hits and two walks fanning a pair recording five outs.
Sunday afternoon at noon is the series finale pitting the same two clubs from Mossy Creek in the rubber game. As always fans are encouraged to tune into the broadcast coverage on cneagles.com/live with audio and video options available.
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