The Emory baseball team ended spring break with a 2-1 series victory against the Piedmont College (Ga.) Lions. Dropping the first of a three-game set March 10 at Piedmont College, the Eagles bounced back to beat the Lions at home Saturday and Sunday. Emory is still clinging to the No. 1 spot in D3baseball.com’s rankings with a 15-2 record.
After starting the season with a 11-0 record, Emory entered the series against Piedmont with only one loss, which Millsaps College (Miss.) had handed them March 4.
At the start of the Friday bout, the Eagles suffered an early deficit. The Lions pounced on the Eagles by scoring two runs in the first inning and four in the third. Emory’s defense faltered in the third inning, recording two errors that led to two unearned runs. Senior starting pitcher Jackson Weeg’s day on the mound was cut short after a turbulent three innings, during which he gave up six runs (five earned) on five hits and three walks.
Freshman pitcher Richard Brereton replaced Weeg, putting in four innings of relief and allowing one run on three hits. During that time, Emory scored only one run of their own and trailed Piedmont by six heading into the top of the seventh.
Thanks to two Piedmont errors and three Emory hits, Emory scored four runs in the seventh inning. But the Eagles failed to score in the final two innings and lost the game 7-5.
Sophomore pitcher Billy Dimlow led Emory Saturday. Dimlow garnered his third victory of the season, pitching seven scoreless innings, including 11 strikeouts. Emory’s bats were hot throughout the game, helping the Eagles score five runs.
Head Coach Mike Twardoski attributed Dimlow’s success to his ability to throw challenging, off-speed pitches.
“His slider has been very effective so far this season,” Twardoski said. “[Piedmont] was probably looking for fastballs but Dimlow threw his slider for strikes and he kept them off balance.”
The Eagles enjoyed strong offensive performances by senior left fielder Brian Hernandez and junior shortstop Nick Chambers. Hernandez gave a solid at bat performance, going four for four with two RBIs, a homerun, a double and a stolen base. Chambers reached first three times on two hits and a walk.
Senior pitcher Kyle Monk came in for relief in the eighth and ninth innings to help the Eagles complete the shutout. He made easy work of the Piedmont offense, recording four strikeouts against the seven batters he faced.
Facing off in the final game of the series Sunday, Emory and Piedmont vied for the series win. The Eagles and Lions played toe-to-toe until the Eagles edged out the game in the bottom of the ninth.
Senior pitcher Philip Maldari started for Emory, allowing three runs (two earned) in six innings. Along with a solid outing on the mound, Maldari went five for five hitting with three RBIs.
Twardoski praised the dynamism of Maldari, noting how special it is to have a player step up both defensively and offensively.
“It is very unique to have a player who is effective batting and pitching,” Twardoski said.
Maldari kept the game close, allowing Emory to acquire a 4-3 lead after six innings. Piedmont knotted the game at four in the top of the seventh when senior pitcher Luke Emmett took over for Emory.
Piedmont’s batters capitalized in the top of the eighth with four runs, leaving Emory with a lofty deficit to make up in the final two innings. Undeterred, Emory scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth to trail by one heading into the ninth inning.
To keep the game within reach, Monk threw a scoreless top of the ninth, striking out the side. Senior Jeff Ronpirin knocked in two runs in a heroic at bat as a pinch hitter for sophomore shortstop James Pittinger. Ronpirin’s single up the middle proved to be the crushing blow. The Eagles completed the series victory with a 9-8 triumph.
Emory committed four errors. Hernandez emphasized how the team needs to focus on fielding moving forward.
“What is happening is that sometimes we get complacent in our practices,” Hernandez said. “We need to quicken ourselves up and not let ourselves become complacent and fall into a lull during practice.”
Twardoski said that despite the team’s lackluster performance that they “really fought through adversity.”
Emory returned to the diamond Wednesday with a 4-1 victory over Birmingham-Southern College (Ala.).