ROCK HILL – Third-seeded Newberry will face Mars Hill in its first game of the 2017 Pilot/Flying J South Atlantic Conference Baseball Championship on Friday evening in Tennessee.
Tournament seedings were set today when Carson-Newman and Mars Hill were able to complete only two games in their weekend series due to inclement weather. Mars Hill finishes its SAC slate at 14-9, one-half game up on Tusculum for the fourth seed and final bye into the double-elimination portion of the bracket.
The Wolves and Mars Hill will play at approximately 7:30 p.m. Friday in the third and final game of the day. Newberry is guaranteed at least two games in the tournament by earning a top-four seed.
Top-seeded Catawba and second-seeded Lincoln Memorial headline Friday’s first two contests. Those matchups will be set after the completion of Thursday’s single-elimination contests. No. 5 Tusculum and No. 8 Wingate play in the first such matchup after Wingate took two of three from the Pioneers this weekend. No. 6 Coker and No. 7 Carson-Newman square off in Thursday’s nightcap.
Newberry took two of three games from the Lions when the teams met in Mars Hill March 24 and 25. Friday’s presumptive starter Zack Kelly took the loss in the opener, allowing four runs on eight hits through 6.0 innings. The Wolves stranded the go-ahead run on base in the eventual 4-2 loss.
The Wolves rebounded on Saturday, however, to win the series. A 10th-inning home run from Jeff Sneed was the difference in the first game of the doubleheader, giving the Wolves a 10-9 win after squandering a four-run lead in the ninth. Freshman Evan Estridge had the best outing of his career in Game Two, earning AstroTurf SAC Pitcher of the Week honors for his three-hit, complete-game shutout that featured 11 strikeouts.
The winner of Friday’s Newberry vs. Mars Hill matchup will advance to face the winner of Lincoln Memorial vs. Tusculum, Coker, or Carson-Newman Saturday evening at 7:30. The loser plays the winner of Catawba vs. Coker, Carson-Newman, or Wingate on Saturday at 3:45 p.m.
All games will be played at Smokies Stadium in Kodak, Tennessee. The 6,412-seat facility serves as the home of the Tennessee Smokies, the Double A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.