KODAK, Tenn. – The eighth-seeded Anderson University baseball team's historic run through the 2018 Pilot/Flying J South Atlantic Conference Baseball Championship ended with a 6-4 loss to No. 4 seed Lincoln Memorial, Sunday night, but not before the Trojans staved off elimination with a thrilling, 7-6, extra-inning win over Tusculum earlier in the day at Smokies Stadium.
Anderson saw its season end with a 25-29 overall record, which marks the sixth-highest win total in school history (NCAA Division II era) and the most wins in a season since the 2003 edition of Trojan baseball claimed an NCAA D-II era school-record 31 victories. Lincoln Memorial (34-18) advances to meet Catawba in Monday's title contest.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Anderson 7, Tusculum 6 (10 innings)
Senior Tyler Miller was 2-for-4 in the extra-inning affair, with two singles and also reached on a pair of walks, with classmate William Thomas notching a pair of singles and a walk. Sophomore Dillon Carpenter was 2-for-5 and drove in the winning run with his 10th-inning single. Junior Jackson Strange was also 2-for-5, with two singles and freshman Will Lindsey posted a two-run single in the second inning.
Junior left-hander Matthew Stanley (2-2) captured the win with 2 2/3 innings of relief. He surrendered one run on one hit, while striking out two and not issuing a walk.
Lincoln Memorial 6, Anderson 4
Thomas was 2-for-5 with a single and a double, with Joseph Strange added a double and a walk. Sophomore Matthew Overton scored two runs and Jackson Strange drove in two runs.
Redshirt sophomore John McMicking (0-3) absorbed the loss after allowing six runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings on the mound. The right-hander struck out a season-high five batters and walked three.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Carpenter's walk-off single to left with one out in the bottom of the 10th inning brought home freshman Trevor Weisner from second base with the winning run as the Trojans edged Tusculum in the elimination bracket contest.
Overton and Carpenter, along with junior Brandon Odachowski opened the bottom of the second inning with three consecutive singles and all three crossed the plate – two of them on Lindsey's single to left center field - to give the Trojans an early 3-0 advantage.
AU's lead grew to 5-0 with two runs in the fourth inning, as Joseph Strange went the opposite way for a one-out single and Thomas followed two batters later by beating out a bunt to the right side. Strange crossed the plate on Miller's single through the right side and Thomas scored when the Pioneer defense misplayed Carpenter's grounder to the right side.
Tusculum got two of the runs back in the top of the sixth inning and knotted the score at five apiece with three runs in the eighth inning and took a brief 6-5 lead with another run in the top of the ninth.
But Miller led off the bottom of the ninth by slicing a single to right field and moved to second when Carpenter drew a walk. Jackson Strange came through three batters later with a clutch two-out single through the left side of the infield that scored Miller with the tying run.
Stanley retired the Pioneers in order in the top of the 10th inning to set up the late heroics.
Lincoln Memorial jumped out in front early with a solo run in the bottom of the first inning, but the Trojans quickly answered with two in the top of the second frame, as Overton led off with a single to right-center and Jackson Strange followed with his ninth home run of the campaign beyond the fence in left.
The Railsplitters evened the score with another solo run in the bottom of the second, with AU countering by reclaiming a 3-2 edge in the fifth inning when Thomas singled up the middle to plate Joseph Strange, who earlier led off by pulling a double down the left-field line.
The Trojans threatened in the top of the sixth after Castleberry led off with a double down the left field line and AU loaded the bases with one out, but was unable to capitalize. LMU countered by scoring four runs with two outs in the bottom of the sixth and taking a 6-3 lead.
AU quickly threatened again in the top of the seventh, as the Trojans got runners on first (Miller) and third (Lindsey) with one out, but both runners were left stranded.
An inning later, Overton led off the top of the eighth by reaching on an error and Jackson Strange followed with a walk to get the tying run to the plate with no outs. After both runners moved up on a passed ball, Overton scored when Odachowski grounded out to the right side to trim the Railsplitter's advantage to just 6-4 with an inning left to play. Miller was hit by a pitch to lead off the final inning, but AU was unable to push a run across.
STAT OF THE DAY
The Trojans combined to out-hit Tusculum and LMU, 21-16, and garnered 11 walks on the day.
• The Tusculum victory was the fourth extra-inning contest of the season for AU – The Trojans won all four.
• The three victories marked the deepest run in the SAC Tournament in program history for the Trojans.
• The Trojans finished off the season by winning 13 of their final 20 games.
• The Trojans and Railsplitters had combined to score 159 runs in the previous nine meetings, with tonight's matchup marking the lowest combined run total of the four meetings this season.