Royals Miss Clutch Hits In Close Loss To Messiah

Second baseman Ian Norris hit his first career triple and ended up coming home after an error. (photo by Scott Eyre)
Second baseman Ian Norris hit his first career triple and ended up coming home after an error. (photo by Scott Eyre)

EMU's baseball men had their opportunities against a talented Messiah College team, but they couldn't cash in, dropping a 4-3 decision at home. The men slip to 3-2 with the loss.

Eastern Mennonite stays in Harrisonburg this weekend to finish up a seven-game season-opening homestand, welcoming in Penn State-Harrisburg for a doubleheader on Saturday.

Tuesday's game was more about taking advantage of chances rather than simply getting chances. Messiah snuck in an unearned run in the top of the first on a two-out error. The Royals got their first run on the board in the third, when Ryan Hedrick (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) shot a two-out RBI single to right center, plating Zach Roberts (Stuarts Draft, Va./Riverheads).

After giving up the run in the first inning, starter Tyler Campbell (Luray, Va./Luray) settled in and faced the minimum through the next four frames before finally hitting trouble in the sixth. The Falcons drew a one-out walk and quickly followed it up with an RBI double, re-taking the lead at 2-1.

A hit batsman and a pair of walks got EMU in trouble in the eighth, and they nearly got out unscathed. Closer Joe Hall (Gladys, Va./Rustburg) coaxed an infield chopper with the bases loaded to get the second out at home, but a pinch hit single to right brought in a pair of two-out runs to bump the margin to 4-1.

The Royals went right to work in the bottom of the frame, started by an MC error. With two away, Ian Norris (Virginia Beach, Va./Salem) launched a shot to the gap in left center. The runner came in to score, and when the cutoff man sailed a throw to third trying to Norris, the speedy senior came right around to home, making it 4-3.

Hall followed with a single, stole second, and then went to third on Griffin Stanley's (Roanoke, Va./Cave Spring) infield single. But the aggressive Royals got themselves out of the inning when Stanley was caught stealing.

EMU looked cooked in the bottom of the ninth with two quick outs, but Hedrick's liner to right was dropped to keep the game alive. A single to right and an infield hit loaded the bases, but a chopper to second base turned into the game-ending fielder's choice.

The men had no problem getting on base against Messiah's solid pitching staff, swatting ten hits with five walks, but the Royals also left 12 men on base, and ended two innings by having a runner cut down on the base paths.

Stanley went 2-for-4 with a walk, while Damon Frazier (Waynesboro, Va./Wilson Memorial) also had a pair of singles with a run scored. Roberts finished 1-for-3 with a walk, sacrifice and run scored.

Campbell looked good in his first start, striking out six and allowing just one earned run in 6.0 innings, but took the hard-luck loss to fall to 0-2. Freshmen Spencer Laitinen (Woodbridge, Va./C.D. Hylton) and Bailey Hall (Daleville, Va./James River) each threw an inning in relief with giving up a hit.