EMU's baseball men continue to impress, picking up a 5-4 road win at Christopher Newport on Tuesday. The Royals took over the lead for good in the fourth inning and held off a late rally from CNU, now 8-3.
Eastern Mennonite improves to 7-4 with the win as they prepare for a trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., over their spring break. The men play two games on Sunday, getting Fredonia at 10:00am followed by Mount Aloysius at 6:00pm. They also play a single game on each Monday and Tuesday.
After giving up a run to the Captains on back-to-back extra base hits in the bottom of the second, EMU got out of the jam by turning an unconventional double play. With runners on the corners, starting pitcher Bailey Hall (Daleville, Va./James River) coaxed a grounder to third. Brett Lindsay (Gloucester, Va./Gloucester) fired to second to get one runner, but when the CNU runner at third broke for home, Tyler McFadden (Virginia Beach, Va./Salem) threw a strike to catcher Brendon Salladay (Chesapeake, Va./Grassfield) for the tag, leaving the deficit at 1-0.
The men quickly responded in the third when Zach Roberts (Stuarts Draft, Va./Riverheads) continued his hot streak by jacking a two-run homer to right, flipping the Royals in front, 2-1.
The Captains scored another single run in the bottom of the frame, but EMU kept coming. Lindsay led off the fourth with a walk and Ray Tricarico (Culpeper, Va./Eastern View) followed with a single. Tyler Wilcher (Staunton, Va./Buffalo Gap) laid down a sacrifice bunt, but CNU's pitcher overthrew first base and both baserunners chugged around to score, making it 4-2.
The home team missed out on a chance to take back the momentum in their half of the fourth. The leadoff batter hit a homerun ball over the fence, but was called out on an appeal after he did not touch first base. The Captains scored a single run later in the inning, but Hall settled down from there and threw to the minimum over the next two frames.
Eastern Mennonite took advantage of another CNU error in the sixth, with Salladay hitting a sacrifice fly to make the score 5-3.
Hall hit some trouble in the seventh, but he and two relievers combined to leave the bases stranded full of Captains. A two-out rally in the eighth plated a single run, getting the home team within 5-4.
After the Royals went down in order in the top of the ninth, Christopher Newport made some noise with back-to-back one-out walks. After a wild pitch, an intentional walk loaded the bases to put the force-out back in order. Tristan Childress (Waynesboro, Va./Waynesboro) struck out the next CNU batter for the second out, but control issues nearly cost the win. In the end, the wildness led to the victory.
One would-be wild pitch built even more tension, as the runners held put. A second pitch went wide, and this time the runner from third broke for home. Salladay tracked down the ball and threw a bullet to Childress who laid down the tag at home, ending the rally and the game.
Each team had eight hits, and CNU earned eight walks compared to just three for the Royals. But the men made the difference by taking advantage of Captain mistakes, turning three errors into three unearned runs.
Damon Frazier (Waynesboro, Va./Wilson Memorial) had a trio of singles from the third spot in the order. Jacob Merica (Elkton, Va./East Rockingham) was in the leadoff spot and batted 2-4 with a walk. He scored EMU's first run. Tricarico singled and walked, scoring two runs.
Hall earned the win, throwing 6.1 innings and allowing three runs. Childress earned his first save in harrowing fashion, getting the final two outs.