JEFFERSON CITY — League-leading Carson-Newman will try to stay atop the SAC standings and snap a six-game skid against Wingate when it travels to North Carolina for a three-game set with the Bulldogs beginning Friday at 6 p.m.
Wingate (15-12, 8-4 SAC) beat the Eagles (13-10, 9-3 SAC) five times last season, taking both the season series and both of the games the teams played in the SAC tournament in 2012.
The Bulldogs boast of some of the top pitching in the league. Hurler Olen Little – the reigning SAC pitcher of the week – leads the league in wins (five) and ERA (0.92). The righty has gone a complete game twice in addition to tossing two shutouts.
However, C-N baseball coach Tom Griffin said he knows the Bulldogs are more than just one pitcher.
“It’s an outstanding program and they’ve always been strong in this league,” Griffin said. “They’ve got veterans in the lineup who are good hitters and obviously they’ve got very good starting pitching with Little.”
Carson-Newman will counter with a pitching staff that has been solid as well. The Eagles are tops in the league in strikeouts per game with 8.20 as a staff. C-N also ranks in the top two defensively in runs and hits allowed.
“Our pitching has been good and our defense has played well, but our offense has been too inconsistent,” Griffin said. We’re not looking for three-for-four days (at the plate), we’re looking to be able to move the runner to third with less than two outs.”
The Eagles are batting .258 with runners in scoring position and .250 with a runner on any base. With the bases empty, the Eagles are hitting .297.
“We emphasize the little things so that we can challenge the Wingates of the world and have a chance to battle for a conference championship,” Griffin said.
The Eagles have lost three in a row after stringing together six wins in seven games.
First pitch Friday is set for 6 p.m.