Kimble's 8th-Inning Single Sends Baseball to Monday Championship Game


KODAK, Tenn. -- Jake Kimble (Concord, N.C./Mt. Pleasant/Liberty)  singled home two runs in the bottom of the eighth as top-seeded Catawba rallied to beat second-seeded Carson-Newman 4-2 on Sunday afternoon at the Pilot/Flying J South Atlantic Conference Baseball Tournament at Smokies Stadium.  The Catawba Indians improve to 34-17 and advance to Monday's championship day without a loss.  The Eagles fall to 31-20 and will try and battle back in an elimination game later tonight.

Connor Johnson (Rockwell, N.C./E. Rowan), who had earned the save earlier in the morning in the resumed game with Lincoln Memorial, shut out Carson-Newman for six innings before the Eagles broke through.  With two outs in the seventh, Eric Lynch doubled to put runners at second and third.  Gooch Greer followed with a two-run double to put C-N on top 2-1.

Catawba got off the deck with two outs in the eighth to tie the game.  Kimble singled and Dylan Richardson (Randleman, N.C./Randleman/Appalachian St.) was intentionally walked after Kimble moved to second on a wild pitch.  The Eagles lifted starter Ryan Eberle and Luke Setzer (Salisbury, N.C./E. Rowan) greeted reliever Raunel Perez with a base hit to tie the game.

In the ninth, consecutive one-out singles by Kyle Smith (Greensboro, N.C./Grimsley) and Zach Almond (Richfield, N.C./N. Stanly/UNCG) chased Perez.  Jeremy Simpson (Cleveland, N.C./W. Rowan) singled off Greg Valentine to load the bases and Kimble followed with a two-run single up the middle to put the Indians up 4-2.

Bryan Blanton (Albemarle, N.C./Albemarle) worked a perfect ninth to claim his ninth save.  D.J. Laxton (Asheboro, N.C./E. Randolph) picked up the win to improve to 5-1 as he sat down C-N in order in the eighth.  Johnson allowed two runs on seven hits with no walks and five strikeouts.

The bottom four of the Catawba lineup produced nine of the 10 Indian hits.  Kimble had three hits, while Smith, Almond and Simpson each collected two hits.  Almond put Catawba ahead with a solo home run to lead off the fifth.

Carson-Newman got two hits each from Ryan Addington and Jimmy Rice.  Eberle worked six and two-thirds innings and allowed two runs on five hits.  He walked four and fanned one.  Perez (1-2) took the loss in two-thirds innings of work.

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