Augusta State gave Skip Fite a good start to his 17th season as head coach.
The Jaguars scored seven runs in the first three innings, then benefited from timely pitching and defense to defeat Carson-Newman 8-2 in their season opener at Jaguar Field on a blustery Friday afternoon.
The Eagles managed just four hits and two runs off three Jaguars pitchers.
Starter Matt Joaquim allowed two hits and one run over five innings of work. The sophomore left-hander struck out eight and walked seven. Bush Smith pitched 2 innings of one-hit ball before Jamie Stewart closed out the last 1 innings.
Augusta State (1-0) walked 13, matching the number of hitters Carson-Newman (0-1) left on base.
"I was a little disappointed in the number of hitters we walked, but our pitchers battled," Fite said. "Joaquim got in some tough situations, and he battled out of some big holes, which allowed our team to relax and hit."
Augusta State pounded Eagles starter Matt Huskey, who lasted just four innings, giving up eight hits and seven runs.
Former North Augusta standout Louis Mackie walked with the bases loaded in the second to give Augusta State an early advantage. Ricky Bufkin reached on second baseman Brain Picker's error, which allowed Augi Rodriguez and Will Foskey to score. After Matt May singled to drive in Mackie, the Jaguars had a comfortable 4-0 lead.
Carson-Newman cut into the lead when it scored in the top of the third on four walks, but in the process stranded three runners.
"The guys played real good (today)," Fite said. "I was surprised of how solid the game was played as far as defense; both teams played real solid."
The Jaguars struck back in the bottom of the third inning when Foskey doubled home Heath Kennedy. Rodriguez followed with a hard liner down the third base line to drive in Foskey and Chris Cooper. Rodriguez finished the day 2-for-3 with three RBI and one run scored.
Rodriguez was one of five Jaguars to finish with two hits. May and Cooper both were 2-for-4, while John Graham was 2-for-3 and Foskey was 2-for-2.
"When we practiced earlier, we had five hits in our first intrasquad games," Fite said. "We got 13 hits, and you have to be happy with that. We had the chance to score a lot of runs, which usually doesn't happen in the first day."
The two teams will play a doubleheader today with the first pitch scheduled for noon.
Reach Miguelangelo Hernandez at (706) 823-3304.
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