KODAK, Tenn. – After enduring a brief rain delay at the start of the game, the eighth-seeded Anderson baseball team erupted offensively and a trio of hurlers combined to toss nine strong innings, as the Trojans upset No. 5 seed Lenoir-Rhyne, 16-2, in the opening game of the 2018 Pilot/Flying J South Atlantic Conference Baseball Championship, Thursday afternoon at Smokies Stadium.
Anderson improved to 23-27 with its ninth win in 13 outings and moved on to the double-elimination portion of the Championship. The Trojans will square off with top-seeded Catawba, Friday at 1:30 p.m. Lenoir-Rhyne saw its season end with a 27-22 overall mark.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Senior Tyler Miller was 3-for-4 at the plate, with three singles and also reached on a pair of walks. He scored four runs and drove in three runs. Junior Jackson Strange was 3-for-5, with a three-run homer and a pair of doubles. Sophomore Dillon Carpenter added two singles and a pair of walks, while scoring twice. Redshirt freshman Chandler Castleberry drove in four runs, including two on a seventh-inning double. Junior Brandon Odachowski added a two-run homer and a single and senior William Thomas crossed the plate three times.
Junior right-hander Will Gee (5-6) equaled his season high with seven full innings on the mound and limited the Bears to just four hits – none for extra bases – and struck out three while issuing four walks. He surrendered one earned run. Senior Matthew Reitz and sophomore Alex Medlin each tossed an inning of relief, with Reitz allowing one run on a pair of singles and Medlin did not allow a hit.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Trojans exploded for a five-run first inning, which was highlighted by Strange's eighth home run of the season – a three-run shot over the fence in left field. Lenoir-Rhyne got on the scoreboard with a solo run in the bottom of the second, but the Trojans added four runs in the top of the top of the fourth inning to put the game out of reach. Odachowski's fifth homer of the campaign capped AU's scoring in the frame.
AU built a 10-1 cushion with a run in the sixth and tacked on six more behind Miller's two-run single and Castleberry's two-run double in the seventh.
STAT OF THE GAME
The Trojans' 15 hits equaled their fifth-highest of the season.
• AU has posted the most wins in a season since joining the SAC in 2011 and the most since the 2007 and 2009 squads each notched 23 victories.
• The Trojans equaled the fourth-highest run total in SAC Tournament history (Wingate tallied 17 runs twice in the 2015 tournament and once in the 2012 tourney, while Tusculum notched 16 during the 2012 tournament).
• The 16 runs marked AU's second-highest tally of the campaign – The Trojans scored 19 against Lenoir-Rhyne in late February.
• AU has averaged more than nine runs per game over its last 18 contests.