First-place Eagles sweep Brevard in doubleheader

BREVARD, N.C. – Head coach Tom Griffin picked up wins No. 299 and 300 in a Carson-Newman uniform on Saturday as his Eagles took both ends of a doubleheader to sweep the season series with Brevard.

Griffin is now 300-231 in his 11th season leading the program in Jefferson City. His team won a pair of vastly different contests to vault to the top of the South Atlantic Conference standings with an unblemished league record.

The Eagles (13-5, 3-0 SAC) scored a season-high 18 runs and navigated a late-game offensive surge by Brevard (6-14, 1-5 SAC) to win the day’s first game 18-9. Carson-Newman then created enough offense in the final two innings to spoil a gutsy performance by Tyler Konzen for a 6-3 win in Game Two.

Konzen went the distance in the seven-inning affair, allowing six runs on 10 hits. The Eagles didn’t have a true breakthrough inning, scoring single runs in four frames and notching a pair of runs in the sixth.

Konzen’s grittiness played a large role in Carson-Newman’s inability to put together a big inning. The Eagles scored an unearned run on a squeeze bunt with the bases loaded. But Konzen ended the threat on his second strikeout of the inning to strand a pair. He stranded three more in the fifth, bouncing back from a walk by inducing a foulout to end the threat, then worked out of a bases loaded, one-out jam an inning later with a fielder’s choice and a called third strike.

Brevard got an RBI single from Christian Dix to tie the game. Trailing 5-1 in the sixth, Ryan Smith notched an RBI single before Brennan Allen came around to score on a failed pickoff attempt to cut the lead in half. Carson-Newman added an insurance run in the seventh before Robert Plohr set down the Tornados in order in the bottom of the inning to preserve the win.

Carson-Newman’s defense played a large role in the victory. Second baseman Eric Lynch had a number of highlights, including a pair of sparkling defensive plays on ground balls in the seventh. He also speared a sizzling line drive off the bat of Schuyler Martire to end the fifth and was part of a 4-6-3 double play in the third.

Brevard’s best chance was undone by a similarly impressive defensive play an inning earlier. Starter Ryan Eberle allowed a single, a double, and a walk to load the bases with one out. Parker Hubbard hit a rocket back up the middle, but Eberle placed his glove just in front of his left shoulder to stab the line drive and threw over to first to double up the Tornados and end the threat.

The Tornados had no such trouble against the Carson-Newman defense in the late innings of Game One, but the 18-0 deficit they faced after four innings proved to be too much to overcome. Brevard began its rally on a two-out RBI single by Smith to score Brevard’s first run of the game. Two pitches later, Hunter Donaldson crushed an 0-1 offering from Dustin Batson over the fence in right that scored three more.

Blaine Durham gave the Tornados their second multi-home run game of the season two innings later with a three-run shot to left center. Caleb Jones then added a two-run shot to the batting cages beyond the left field fence three batters later to pull Brevard within nine runs.

Kyle Pittman tamed the Carson-Newman bats expertly for the majority of the game. Entering the contest with the bases loaded and a 17-0 deficit, Pittman got a flyout, walked in a run on a full count, and induced a lineout double play to right field.

Pittman then settled in. The Eagles went down in order in each of the next two frames, and a seventh-inning walk was erased by a double play one pitch later. In 6.0 innings of work, Pittman limited the Eagles to just one hit, an eighth-inning single to left field, and struck out five. The Eagles actually recorded just 17 official at-bats during his time on the mound.

Dix had an impressive afternoon at the plate, going 4-for-8 with two runs scored and an RBI. Allen scored four times during the doubleheader, with Smith providing three RBI’s and three hits in his seven trips to the plate.

Brevard travels to Finch Field in Thomasville on Monday for a nonconference tilt with California (Pa.). First pitch is set for noon.

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