KODAK, Tenn. – After enduring an initial weather delay of an hour, nationally eighth-ranked and top-seeded Newberry needed an eighth-inning rally to edge past seventh-seeded Anderson, 4-2, on the second day of the 2019 Pilot/Flying J South Atlantic Conference Baseball Championship, Friday afternoon at Smokies Stadium.
What was arguably a pitcher's duel through five innings between AU junior hurler Austin Todd and Newberry's Josh Bookbinder, the SAC Freshman of the Year and First-Team All-SAC selection, saw Anderson slip to 20-30 on the season.
The Trojans dropped into the elimination bracket and will square off against the loser of the No. 2 seed Lincoln Memorial vs. No. 5 seed Wingate matchup, which was scheduled for later Friday afternoon.
Newberry (39-12) which won its' first-ever regular-season conference title last weekend moves on to meet the loser of the No. 3 seed Catawba vs. No. 4 seed Tusculum matchup, which is scheduled for later tonight.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Senior Brandon Odachowski was 3-for-4 at the plate, with three singles in his first three at-bats, while second baseman Will Lindsey reached on a single and a walk. Junior Cody Adams belted a solo home run in the fifth inning, while redshirt sophomore Chandler Castleberry was 1-for-3, with a single and was also hit by a pitch.
Newberry entered the contest leading the conference in runs scored with 409 (8.2/game) on the season, but Todd held the potent Newberry offense at bay, limiting the Wolves to just a pair of singles through four innings and just one run through seven innings in his longest stint of the season. The right-hander struck out four and issued just one walk, while scattering six hits.
Junior closer Christian Carpenter (1-1) suffered the tough-luck loss after allowing two unearned runs in the eighth inning.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Both teams' offensive output was stymied through three innings, as neither team seriously threatened through the early going and each squad managed only two base hits and combined for eight baserunners through the first three frames.
The Trojans struck first with a solo run in the top of the fourth inning, as their bats woke up just enough to give the Black and Gold a 1-0 lead. Castleberry was hit by a pitch to open up the inning and the rightfielder promptly stole second. Odachowski followed by lining a 1-2 pitch into left field to get runners at first and third with no outs and two batters later, Matthew Overton ripped a ball up the middle that was snagged by the Newberry shortstop, but the Wolves were unable to turn the double play as Castleberry crossed the plate with the game's first run.
Cody Adams gave the Trojans a 2-0 advantage by hammering a 2-0 pitch from Bookbinder over the right-field fence for the junior's second home run of the season – and first since the end of March.
Newberry countered by taking advantage of a Trojan miscue and cut AU's lead in half by plating a run in the bottom of the fifth, but the Trojans escaped further damage when Lindsey made a leaping grab of a line drive and flipped to Jackson Strange to complete an inning-ending double play.
Following a scoreless sixth and seventh innings, a three-run eighth inning for Newberry gave the Wolves the go-ahead run and an insurance run, as they scored the tying run on a fly ball to left that got up into the sun and stiff wind and they went on to plate two more runs – both unearned - with two outs and the Trojans were retired in order in the top of the ninth.
• A year ago, the eighth-seeded Trojans stunned top-seeded Catawba, 4-1, on the second day of action at the SAC Championship.
• After winning three games in last year's SAC Championship, the Trojans are now 4-3 in the postseason event over the past two seasons.
• The Trojans are now 5-7 in four appearances in the SAC Championship.
• Will Lindsey extended his hitting streak to seven games.
• Trevor Weisner and Cody Adams each stretched their hitting streaks to six games.
• Chandler Castleberry is riding a five-game hitting streak.
• AU hurlers have issued just 24 walks per game over the last 13 contests (105 1/3 innings).
The Trojans will meet the loser of the fourth-seeded Lincoln Memorial/fifth-seeded Wingate contest, Saturday at noon at Smokies Stadium. The Trojans and Bulldogs did not meet during the regular season, while AU will be looking for its first win against Lincoln Memorial this season.