SEASON REVIEW: Royals Find Their Stride With Late Season Surge

(photo by David Meehan)
(photo by David Meehan)

A youthful Diamond Royals squad struggled to find themselves early on in the season, but winning 8 of their last 12 conference games earned them an ODAC Tournament bid for the first time since 2015. Tying the program record in conference wins with 10, the Royals were able to claim the eighth seed before losing at top seeded Randolph-Macon.

The Diamond Royals went through a coaching change at the end of the season as Coach Ben Spotts resigned from his position finishing as the second-longest tenured coach in program history. Adam Posey moves up from an assistant role into the head coach position making for an easy transition to build towards next season.

Record in 2019: 16-31-1 (10-12 ODAC)
Coach: Ben Spotts (117-149-1 overall, 50-80 ODAC in 7 seasons)

Coach Posey Comments:
"It's obviously very exciting to push to make the conference tournament and have some of our young men recognized with post-season awards. We also maintained a Team GPA of 3.0 and had a group of athletes committed to growing together as a team. There were a lot of positives for what was still a relatively young team and I anticipate that the guys that are coming back will be even more motivated to push forward and elevate the program further."

Awards:
Ryan Brewer - Royals Athlete of the Week (March 25-31)
Jordan Jones - All-ODAC Second Team
Jaylon Lee - ABCA/Rawlings All-South Region Second Team, All-ODAC Third Team, VaSID All-State First Team, D3Baseball.com Team of the Week (Feb. 25 - March 3), ODAC Player of the Week (Feb. 25 - March 3), Royals Athlete of the Week (Feb. 11-17)
Connor Lutz - All-ODAC Third Team
Zach Roberts - Royals Athlete of the Week (April 22-28)
Ray Tricarico - All-ODAC Second Team, ODAC Player of the Week (April 1-7)

Statistical Leaders:
- Team stole a program record 69 bases on the season.
- Outfielder Jaylon Lee finished No. 6 in the ODAC in RBI (42), No. 2 in home runs (10), and No.8 in runs (37) while leading the team in each category.
- Freshman Jordan Jones led the ODAC in conference play stolen bases with 13 and was No. 7 in hits with 34.
- Freshman pitcher Connor Lutz finished with the fifth most innings pitched in ODAC play with 52.2 innings and No. 7 in ERA at 3.42.
- Catcher Ray Tricarico led the team in batting average at .406 and on-base percentage at .491.
- Sophomore Corey Willis was No. 3 in the ODAC in conference play RBIs with 25. 

Season Highlights:
- Scored seven runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to come back and win 7-5 against Washington and Lee at home on March 20.
- Royals won at ODAC Tournament Champion Shenandoah for the first time since 2011 (March 26) then pulled off the first ever conference sweep of the Hornets at home (April 17).
- Won in walk-off fashion against #8 Randolph-Macon in a 12-inning thriller on April 6. 
- Held on to win game two of the home doubleheader against Roanoke on Senior Recognition Day.
- Beat Virginia Wesleyan in the last game of the regular season to clinch an ODAC Tournament spot. 

Athlete Comments:
"I really cherished my senior year and what we accomplished as a team, making it to the tournament for the first time in my four years here. Looking back, I don't regret a single thing during my time at EMU. I take so many great memories and relationships from all the guys I have played with."- Senior Ryan Brewer