Close games are becoming the norm for EMU's baseball team. That trend continued on Sunday with a pair of one-run losses in ODAC action at Guilford College.
Earlier this week, the Royals suffered three straight losses, each time leaving the tying run at the plate. This time around, Guilford completed a heart-breaking four-run rally in the bottom of the ninth to steal game one, before EMU left the bases loaded in a one-run loss in the nightcap.
The Royals (11-18/2-10 ODAC) are in the midst of seven-game losing skid, with Sunday's losses particularly damaging to their efforts of making the ODAC Tournament. The tourney field expanded from six to eight teams this year, but the Royals stand in ninth place, 2.0 games behind Lynchburg (5-9) for the final tourney berth.
Eastern Mennonite takes one final step outside of ODAC play on Tuesday, playing at Hood College at 3:30pm. The men play their final eight games against conference opponents, including six straight at home to wrap up the schedule.
Guilford 7, EMU 6
After the teams each went scoreless over the first three innings, Daniel Scott (Moneta, Va./Staunton River) made a quick change to that in the fourth with a leadoff homerun to right. Jaylon Lee (Newport News, Va./Denbigh) doubled and Damon Frazier (Waynesboro, Wilson Memorial) roped an RBI single to make it 2-0.
The Quakers got their own solo homer in the bottom of the frame, and then took their first lead in the fifth on a two-run double.
The men made a quick comeback in the seventh, getting back-to-back singles with one away. Billy Quinn (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge) put a double into right field to bring in one runner and tie the score at 3-3. Scott followed with a single to left, plating two more runs. Quinn then lofted a sac fly in the top of the ninth for a 6-3 margin.
After relieving in the seventh, closer Ryan Brewer (Martinsville, Va./Franklin County) hit some trouble in GC's half of the ninth when the first two batters reached. A one-out single brought in both runners to slide it to a one-run game at 6-5. The Quakers eventually loaded the bases with two away, but it looked like the Royals had finally closed the door on a fly ball to center, even though Lee lost track of the ball momentarily before settling back under it. In a final twist of events, though, he dropped the ball, allowing the tying and winning runs to score as Guilford completed the wild comeback.
Scott and Lee each accounted for two of EMU's 10 hits. Scott had three RBIs as he hit his second homerun in as many game. Quinn had one hit but two RBIs and a run scored.
Frazier started on the mound and took a no-decision on three runs over 6.2 innings. Brewer fell to 0-3 with the 2.0+ innings of relief.
Guilford 4, EMU 3
The Quakers scored twice in their first at-bat, before the men got on the board in the fourth. Two singles and walk had the bases loaded with just one away, but the Royals could only scrape in a single score on a walk from Tyler Wilcher (Staunton, Va./Buffalo Gap).
Guilford responded with single runs in the fourth and fifth, pushing the lead to 4-1.
That lasted until the ninth, when Wilcher and Quinn opened the frame with back-to-back singles. Blake Sargent (Suffolk, Va./King's Fork) bounced an RBI single through the left side to bring in one run before Scott laid down a bunt single to load the bases.
The Quakers coaxed a groundball but could not turn the double play, as Quinn scored to make it a one-run game at 4-3. Frazier walked to load the bases and set up the force out at home, which proved key when Brett Lindsay (Gloucester, Va./Gloucester) grounded to third and the throw went to home for the second out. Jacob Merica (Elkton, Va./East Rockingham) came in a pinch hitter, but he struck out to end the game with the bases packed.
EMU spread out 11 hits, with Scott being the only player with multiple singles. Frazier, Wilcher and Tyler McFadden (Virginia Beach, Va./Salem) each had a hit and a walk.