Baseball

The Major League Baseball (MLB) postseason is quickly approaching, and the stage is set for an exciting battle that will determine the top players  of the baseball world. The postseason is bound to keep baseball fans on the edge of their seats; many of this season’s storylines have already etched their place in baseball history.

Perhaps the most noteworthy event of the season was the Cleveland Indians’ incredible 22-game winning streak. This streak marked the second longest in MLB history, four games shy of the New York Giants’ 1916 26-game winning streak, and the longest in American League (AL) history. Starting Aug. 24, the Indians began stringing together win after win against the Boston Red Sox, Kansas City Royals, New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox and Baltimore Orioles. Their streak ended Sept. 15, when the Royals finally handed the Indians a 4-3 defeat.

The Indians’ elite starting pitching energized their streak. Cleveland’s pitching has been the best in the AL, as they are the only team that has not yet given up more than 600 runs this season. The ace of their staff, Corey Kluber, dominated during the winning streak, tallying four wins and allowing only five earned runs during that span. Kluber has made a serious case as a candidate for the Cy Young Award, awarded to the best pitcher in the American and National Leagues, with an 18-4 record on the year. On top of 18 wins, Kluber also has struck out 262 batters and has a 2.27 earned run average (ERA). The most viable contender to Kluber for the AL Cy Young is Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale, who has a 17-7 record, 300 strikeouts and a 2.75 ERA.

Cleveland’s potent offense also contributed to their win streak. The Indians scored five or more runs 14 times over the course of the 22-game span. Third baseman Jose Ramirez has been a catalyst for the Indians lineup, leading the Indians in batting average. Other key players in the Indians’ offensive prowess are shortstop Francisco Lindor, who has a .277 batting average and 33 home runs, and designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion, who leads the team with 37 home runs.

As it stands, the Indians have the best record in the AL and are the AL Central Division champions. Joining the Indians in the AL playoff are the Houston Astros (the AL West champions), as well as the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, both of whom are still vying for the AL East pennant. The Minnesota Twins claim the final wild card spot and are five games ahead of the next best team, the Los Angeles Angels.

In the National League (NL), the Los Angeles Dodgers have undoubtedly been the strongest team. They have a 99-57 record and have given up less than 600 runs over the season. Powerhouse pitcher Clayton Kershaw made mincemeat of his opponents, delivering a Cy Young-worthy performance with an 18-4 record, 200 strikeouts and a 2.21 ERA. Along with Kershaw, the Dodgers have received ample production from third baseman Justin Turner, who has a .321 batting average, second in the NL to Colorado Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon. Also benefiting the Dodgers offense is rookie sensation first baseman Cody Bellinger, who has 39 home runs.

With the powerful combination of Kershaw and Turner, the Dodgers have earned themselves the NL West pennant. Other teams to clinch playoff spots in the NL include the Washington Nationals, who won the NL East, and the Arizona Diamondbacks, who nabbed a wild card spot. In the NL Central, the Chicago Cubs are a game away from winning the division. The final wild card spot is currently a three-team race between the Rockies, Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals.

The MLB shattered its single season record for total home runs in a season this year, making it a special year for power hitters. Two of the year’s most entertaining players are Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton and Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge. Both players have adopted the home run as the crux of their game and are first and second in the MLB in home runs, respectively. Stanton has smashed 57 home runs, 31 of which have come after the All-Star break. Also a prominent home-run hitter, Judge has hit 50 home runs of his own. This mark set a record for most home runs by a rookie in a single season. Judge did much of his damage before the All-Star break, hitting 30 of his 50 home runs. On a national stage, Judge used his six-foot seven-inch frame to showcase his power as he won the Home Run Derby. Although Judge cooled off substantially after the All-Star break, he has reemerged in September with 11 home runs and a .284 batting average.

Stanton’s and Judge’s power symbolize this exciting MLB season. With the AL and NL Wild Card games Oct. 3 and 4, respectively, teams have less than a week to secure their entry to the 2017 postseason.

From getting cut his freshman season to preparing for a career in aerospace engineering, Hernandez has accomplished much both on and off the field in his time at Emory.
From getting cut his freshman season to preparing for a career in aerospace engineering, senior outfielder Brian Hernandez has accomplished a lot both on and off the field. Photo Courtesy of Emory Athletics.

After he overslept the last day of baseball tryouts run by a coach known for his demand for punctuality, then-freshman Brian Hernandez knew he had his work cut out for him. The now-senior outfielder and designated hitter, who was cut from the team his freshman year but managed to win a spot his sophomore year, is now approaching the end of a highly successful stint on the Emory baseball team. Hernandez’s turbulent start to his Emory baseball career made his rise to success as a key member of the team even more impressive. Hernandez compiled a career batting average of .348, registering six home runs, 17 doubles and 84 RBIs in 106 games. During his junior year, D3baseball.com selected Hernandez to the All-South Region third team, and the UAA named him to their first team.

The Emory Wheel spoke with Hernandez about his Cuban heritage, hometown community in South Florida and his plans after graduation.

This transcript has been edited for clarity and length.

Stephen Mattes, The Emory Wheel: What makes baseball so special to you?

Brian Hernandez: As a kid I really fell in love with the game because there are so many intricacies to it. It is one of the truest athletic games there is as far as combining athleticism and physical attributes with skill and mental components. I love that there are no time constraints. I grew up with the game of baseball. My parents were born in Cuba, a big baseball country. Then they moved to Miami, where there is also a big baseball community.

EW: What do you consider the defining moment of your Emory baseball career?

BH: I was actually cut my freshman year. I felt like I was doing well during the fall tryout period. I then got an ear infection and did not wake up to my alarm for the last day of tryouts, which ended up being a parents’ weekend. I ended up showing up to the field 45 minutes late after being a couple of minutes late the prior week. Head Coach [Mike Twardoski] emphasizes punctuality a lot. Usually his rule is that if you are not there 15 minutes early you’re late. So showing up to practice 45 minutes late was really an hour late. That ended up being the dealbreaker, and I did not make the team my freshman year. This really drove me over that summer to get a lot better and stronger. I then ended up playing a bit the next year, more than a normal incoming [player] would, and then I earned the starting role in my junior year. As much as it hurt to be cut and not [play] baseball for a whole year, without that I wouldn’t be where I am today.

EW: Do you think the team has lived up to expectations this year?

BH: Yes and no. This was supposed to be a big year for us because we have 10 seniors. Every single one of these seniors has a big role on the team, and we all play regularly. There were high expectations, especially coming into a year after we reached the World Series three years in a row. In the beginning half of the season, we definitely lived up to and exceeded our expectations, and then we went on a little bit of a skid, [during] which everyone was kind of confused. Nobody really knew what was going on and we had alumni and parents texting us. We were meeting with the coaches, trying to figure things out. Luckily now we have picked it back up a little bit. Hopefully, we will end up living up to and exceeding our expectations.

EW: Which baseball player do you most look up to?

BH: My favorite is the late Jose Fernandez. He was a pillar of the South Florida community and the Cuban community. Not only with being the great young pitcher that he was — the way he played the game of baseball was electrifying. He clearly had a lot of passion for the game. He also had a lot of fun playing the game, which is something I try to do as much as I can because at the end of the day it is a game. You get frustrated about not being able to help your team if you get out or you make an error … [but] you should have fun playing because if not there is no reason to be playing it. It was a very emotional time for the South Florida community when he ended up passing away. The best way to honor his memory is to continue to play the way he did.

EW: What are your plans after graduation?

BH: Right now I am kind of testing out the water. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do right now. Because of baseball I haven’t had a ton of work experience in the field, but I am graduating with a physics major and a math minor, and I am looking to go into aerospace engineering. My goal is to first get an internship at the Kennedy Space Center, which would be my dream, and then go from there. That will help me decide if I want to go to graduate school for aerospace engineering or if I want to do research, astrophysics or just regular engineering.
Hernandez and the Eagles will host the New York University Violets April 21, in their last series of the regular season.

Entering play April 8 to 9 on the heels of a six-game losing streak, the Emory baseball team found their stride with a four-game sweep on the road against the Brandeis University (Mass.) Judges. Emory’s four wins against Brandeis improved their UAA conference record to 6-6 and their overall record to 23-11.

After the series’ initial game was cancelled due to inclement weather April 7, the Eagles were scheduled to have back-to-back doubleheaders April 8 and April 9. All games were reduced to seven innings and played at University of Massachusetts Boston due to the unplayable field conditions at Brandeis’ home field.

The Eagles’ first bout of the weekend ended in a convincing 6-0 shutout against the Judges April 8. Senior pitcher Jackson Weeg took to the mound for Emory and delivered a dominant performance. Weeg limited Brandeis to three hits, shutting out the Judges through seven innings and tallying 11 strikeouts in the process.

Emory found the scoreboard early in the game when junior first baseman Bubby Terp stole home in the second inning. The Eagles did not score again until the fourth inning, when the team added four more runs to their lead.

Terp, senior third baseman Philip Maldari, senior catcher Chris Young and freshman shortstop Richard Brereton recorded RBIs in the inning off of four hits, a walk and a Brandeis error. Emory added one more run in the seventh to finish the game leading by six. Terp recorded impressive numbers in the game, going two for three with a double and an RBI.

Sophomore pitcher Billy Dimlow continued the trend from earlier in the day in the second game, keeping Brandeis scoreless in a 3-0 victory. Dimlow was just as successful as Weeg, allowing only three hits with no runs or walks and 10 strikeouts in seven innings pitched.

Once again, the Eagles snatched an early lead thanks to Brereton’s two-run double. Emory was set to glide to the finish line with a two-run lead, when they added one more run on senior second baseman Jeff Ronpirin’s single in the seventh. Ronpirin scorched the Brandeis pitchers, going a solid three of four with two doubles and an RBI.

The Eagles handled the Judges with ease in their first match-up April 9 with a 10-0 shutout. Emory crossed the plate three times in the first inning on three hits and a Brandeis error. Emory added two runs to their lead and took four walks in the second inning.

The Eagles scored three more runs in the fifth and two in the seventh to amass a ten-run margin over the Judges. Senior pitcher Luke Emmett had a terrific day on the mound, giving up no runs on five hits and one walk through six innings. Sophomore pitcher Charlie Redovian took the mound in the seventh inning, helping Emory triumph 10-0.

Senior pitcher Andrew Doetsch noted some of the areas that Emory improved this weekend.

“We came out ready to play,” Doetsch said. “All of our starters went deep and everybody had great games. The pitching was really dominant and were in command their entire time on the mound.”

Senior designated hitter Brian Hernandez emphasized how the team’s confidence helped give them the edge they needed.

“We needed a certain cockiness and we got it back this weekend in Boston,” Hernandez said. “Everybody looked confident on the mound, at the plate and on the field.”

Completing the four-game sweep, Emory defeated Brandeis in a game decided in the final inning. Combined, three pitchers — junior Rhett Stuart, sophomore Mack Wilkins and senior Kyle Monk — allowed two earned runs on eight hits.

Emory trailed through the first five innings after Brandeis drove in a run in the first inning. The Eagles finally struck in the top of the sixth on Terp’s two-run homerun that drove in Ronpirin. Trailing by one, Brandeis was able to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth with a one-run single.

With the game knotted up at two in the final inning, senior left fielder Wilson Morgan gave Emory a one-run advantage with an RBI single. After getting the last out in the sixth inning, Monk took the one-run lead into the bottom of the seventh and recorded his seventh win of the season.

Doetsch mentioned the success of the team’s seniors.

“All of the seniors together had a ball this weekend,” Doetsch said. “They were all playing great games and having tons of fun. They were smashing the ball.”

Stringing together a set of strong performances, the Eagles delivered a nearly flawless weekend, allowing only two runs in four games and outscoring the Judges 22-2.

Hernandez noted how the pitching helped lead the way for Emory during the weekend.

“Everybody across the board was solid on the mound,” Hernandez said. “The pitchers set the tone by having the level of energy and confidence that they did.”

Emory continued their success from the weekend with a 19-3 rout of Oglethorpe University April 11. Emory will head to Chappell Park against d3baseball.com’s No. 3 team Birmingham-Southern College (Ala.) April 18.

Junior infielder Nick Chambers dives to beat the tag in the Eagles' series at Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.). Photo Courtesy of Grace Burton.
Junior infielder Nick Chambers dives to beat the tag in the Eagles’ series at Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.). Photo Courtesy of Grace Burton.

The Emory baseball team suffered a four-game sweep in a series against their UAA foe, the Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.) Bears. Emory’s losses this past weekend stretched their losing streak to six games. The Eagles have struggled as of late, dropping nine of their past 11 games.

Head Coach Mike Twardoski said that the team is struggling with some of the basics and that he needs to figure out how to help his team rediscover their winning ways.

“We are playing tight, missing the signs and not bunting well,” Twardoski said. “We are not doing the little things that win games. My job is to figure out what button to push because we are still working hard and we are still energetic.”

Emory began the four-game series March 31 on the road with a 3-0 loss. Washington pitcher, freshman Brad Margolin, nearly no-hit the Eagles, allowing only one hit in the game. Marking an impressive performance, Margolin recorded a complete game with one hit and one walk with nine strikeouts.

Emory sophomore pitcher Billy Dimlow had a solid day on the rubber as well. He allowed three runs (two earned) on eight hits and a walk. Despite Emory’s solid showing from the mound, Emory’s batters did not figure out how solve Margolin. Junior shortstop Nick Chambers had Emory’s only hit with a single in the sixth inning.

Although the Eagles got on the scoreboard, Emory dropped the first half of a doubleheader 6-2 April 1. Three errors in the field plagued Emory’s hopes of victory as the Eagles allowed four unearned runs.

Senior pitcher Jackson Weeg led the Eagles on the mound, pitching a solid seven and one-third innings, allowing three runs (one earned) on four hits. He also tallied four walks and 10 strikeouts.

Weeg said that the work he’s done to improve his game has helped him better contribute to the team.

“I have been working hard to make adjustments,” Weeg said. “The work has been paying off and I saw that this weekend. Mostly I am trying to put the team in position to win.”

With the game tied at two heading into the eighth, Washington scored four runs to grasp a 6-2 lead. Entering the game with one out and a man on first, Monk struggled to keep Washington from crossing the plate.

Emory’s batters put together another lackluster performance in the second half of the doubleheader April 1. A three-run first inning catapulted Washington to a 5-2 triumph over the Eagles.

Starting for Emory, senior pitcher Luke Emmett had a forgettable day on the mound, allowing four runs on four hits and five walks through four innings. After Washington burst ahead of Emory with a three-run first inning, the Eagles failed to answer back.

Emory scored runs in the third and seventh innings, but were never able to string together a breakthrough. Washington’s pitchers held Emory in check, allowing only four hits. The Bears added two more runs of their own in the fifth and sixth innings, walking away with a third straight win against the Eagles.

Failing to salvage the final game of the series, Emory fell 7-5 to Washington April 2. The Eagles flew out to an early lead, scoring a run in the second inning on a Washington throwing error. Monk helped Emory maintain the lead through five innings, yielding only two hits to the Washington batters.

The Bears fought back in the sixth and were able to tie the game at one apiece. Emory responded with a vengeance at the top of the seventh, knocking four runs across the plate. Senior third-baseman Philip Maldari drove in two runs in the inning with a double.

Leading the game 5-1 heading to the bottom of the seventh, Emory seemed poised for victory but to their dismay, Washington answered back. Monk and freshman relief pitcher  Richard Brereton combined to give up six runs to Washington in the seventh. Adding to the Eagles’ frustration, Twardoski was ejected in the disastrous inning for arguing balls and strikes.

Emory did not respond in the eighth or ninth innings and went home winless for the weekend. Emory’s record faltered to 19-11 and 2-6 in UAA conference play.

Despite the team’s losing streak, Twardoski praised his team’s effort and suggested that improvement may require nothing more than a tighter focus.

“This team is one of the hardest working team’s I’ve been around,” Twardoski said. “We have too big a scope. Instead, we need to worry about one pitch at a time.”

Weeg mentioned that it will take a team effort to make this change.

“The pitching staff batters have struggled at times,” Weeg said. “But it has been a team effort the entire season and in order to get out of this slump it will take the whole team getting together and moving past what has been a tough 10 games.”

The Eagles will return to the diamond April 7, traveling to Waltham, Mass. to face Brandeis University.

 

Senior Outfielder Wilson Morgan scored three runs in the Eagles' epic final game against Case Western Reserve (Ohio) that featured six lead changes and a total of 35 runs. Gemy Sethaputra/Senior Staff
Senior Outfielder Wilson Morgan scored three runs in the Eagles’ epic final game against Case Western Reserve (Ohio) that featured six lead changes and a total of 35 runs. Gemy Sethaputra/Senior Staff

Emory’s baseball team split a four-game series with Case Western Reserve University (Ohio) this past weekend, winning the first two games with scores of 11-1 and 4-0, and falling in the second two by tallies of 11-2 and 20-15. The Eagles played a pair of doubleheaders Friday March 24 and Saturday March 25. The story of the weekend was Emory’s pitching staff, which, after allowing only one run during the first two games, conceded 31 runs in the final two.

While Emory’s pitching has been their strongest weapon this season, Head Coach Mike Twardoski noted that the bullpen had an uncharacteristically difficult series.

“We didn’t get very good innings out of [the] bullpen at the end,” Twardoski said. “Pitching has been the trademark of our team the last few years and we’ll have to work to get our pitching back in order to make a run.”

The team’s 20-15 loss in the final game of the weekend was particularly heartbreaking. After a back and forth game that saw six lead changes, the Eagles led the Spartans by a score of 15-12 going into the top of the ninth. However, Emory couldn’t hold onto its advantage as senior pitcher Kyle Monk and sophomore pitcher Charlie Redovian gave up a combined eight runs on eight hits, allowing Case Western to take a stranglehold on the game.

At the plate, senior designated hitter Jeff Ronpirin, junior first baseman Bubby Terp and sophomore second baseman NJ Kim combined for eight hits, seven RBIs and four walks to spearhead the Emory bats. As a team, Emory managed 13 hits and 13 walks in the final game of the series.

Monk and sophomore pitcher Billy Dimlow carried the Eagles in the first two games of the weekend. Monk was the hero of the series’ first game, throwing a one-run complete game and notching seven strikeouts. In the next game, Dimlow followed Monk’s spectacular performance with a dominating game of his own, throwing eight innings and logging eight strikeouts.

Twardoski praised Monk and Dimlow’s performances at the start of the weekend.

“To have our closer [Monk] take a starter’s role and go seven [innings] was huge,” Twardoski said. “Getting eight scoreless innings from Dimlow too was a great way to start the weekend.”

Sophomore centerfielder David Draper made a huge impact on offense, going six for eight over the two games with two doubles, a home run and five RBIs. Additionally, senior shortstop Nick Chambers had a pair of hits and two walks in the first game and Kim went two for three with two RBIs in the second.

Emory will travel to St. Louis, Mo., this weekend to take on Washington University in St. Louis in a four-game series between March 31 and April 2. The first game is Friday at 4 p.m.

Emory baseball dropped its first three-game series of the season, losing two of three against the Covenant College (Ga.) Scots. Despite the weekend losses, the Eagles’ record remains 17-5.

After a 4-1 victory against D3baseball.com’s No. 4 team Birmingham Southern University (Ala.) March 15, the Eagles hoped to build off that success in their home series against Covenant. The Eagles flew out of the dugout, jumping to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Junior first baseman Bubby Terp knocked in two runs on a double along the right field line.

Sophomore starting pitcher Billy Dimlow held Covenant scoreless for the first four innings before yielding two runs to the Scots in the top of the fifth. With the game tied at two, Emory regained the lead in the bottom of the inning after a Covenant fielding error allowing two runs to cross home plate.

Yielding one more run in his start, Dimlow completed a strong afternoon on the mound, allowing three earned runs on six hits and two walks in seven innings. With Dimlow out of the game, senior pitcher Kyle Monk came in looking for his fifth save this season in the eighth. With scoreless eighth and ninth innings, Monk struck out three Covenant batters. In the meantime, Emory added three more runs in the seventh and eighth innings to win the game 7-3.

Dimlow attributed part of his strong start to the dynamic between himself and his catcher, junior Mitch Kerner.

“Part of my success has come because I’ve had great chemistry with my catcher,” Dimlow said. “He’s been calling pitches that have allowed me to stay consistent and to execute.”

Superb performances from Dimlow and senior left fielder Wilson Morgan paved the way to the Eagles’ victory. Dimlow continues to build a strong resume this season, recording his fourth win in six starts. Morgan went two for three batting with two doubles, an RBI and two walks.

Dimlow spoke about his ability to throw his slider for strikes and how it has helped him to dominate his opponents.

“The slider is a pitch that I can throw in any count and feel confident,” Dimlow said. “I have been able to throw different types of sliders and have relied on them almost like a crutch.”

Emory looked to build a winning streak against Covenant in a doubleheader March 18 in Lookout Mountain, Ga. In an offensive battle, the Eagles fell short in a 12-10 defeat.

The Scots battered senior pitcher Luke Emmett, who gave up seven runs on five hits and seven walks in the two and one third innings that he pitched. Following Emmett’s rough start, freshman pitcher John Ross sought to cool off the Covenant bats. Despite the pitching change, Covenant continued their prolific offensive display, knocking three more runs in Ross’s two and two-thirds innings pitched.

Covenant built a 9-0 lead in the first four innings. Emory battled back in innings five through six, bringing home 10 runs of their own, but after allowing Covenant to pick up in the fifth and sixth innings, the Eagles remained unable to claim a lead.

Despite the loss, Twardoski said that his team fought hard to get back into the game.

“Coming back is what we have done all year,” Twardoski said. “We had some really good energy, and some guys had some great at-bats, but we gave up a two-run home run, and if we  hadn’t we probably would have tied.”

Perhaps most damaging to the Eagles on the mound were Covenant’s three home runs. Prior to the first game of this series, Emory’s pitchers allowed only three home runs in the season’s first 19 games.

Head Coach Mike Twardoski noted the Eagles’ poor pitch locations on the home runs.

“When you give up a home run, the ball is up in the zone,” Twardoski said. “We have to pitch to better locations.”

In the second half of the doubleheader, Emory edged a 1-0 lead in the first three innings. The Eagles’ run came on a walk with the bases loaded to freshman third baseman Ryan Adelman.

On the rubber for Emory, senior pitcher Philip Maldari kept the Covenant bats silent in the first three innings. At the bottom of the fourth inning, Maldari yielded two runs to Covenant.

Emory lost control in the bottom of the fifth as Covenant marked four runs on four hits, including a home run. Maldari did not make it through the inning, ending the day with three earned runs on four hits in four innings. Emory’s pitching gave up eight runs in a seven inning game, while Emory’s bats were stymied with only two runs. The Eagles finished the day with an 8-2 defeat.

Dimlow emphasized that pitching is the key factor in determining Emory’s success.

“When our pitching has started well we have been able to win games,” Dimlow said. “Ever since we lost our first game, we have struggled somewhat on the mound. Pitching should be the strongest part of the team.”

Twardoski criticized his team’s approach, stressing that his players must be more poised and prepared to compete in every game.

“My concern is that we’re not ready to play,” Twardoski said. “We are not quick, there’s no energy or camaraderie from a few of us. We need more consistency and [to] have fun playing. It seems that some guys are tired and it’s a bad dynamic now.”

Rounding out the nonconference portion of their schedule, the Eagles fell 9-4 to LaGrange College (Ga.) March 21. Emory will begin University Athletic Association (UAA) play March 24,  hosting Case Western Reserve University (Ohio).

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.).

Junior shortstop Nick Chambers connects on a single to left center in the Eagles' game Friday against Huntingdon (Ala.). Chambers' 2 RBIs lifted Emory to a 12-7 victory. Photo courtesy Gemy Sethaputra.
Junior shortstop Nick Chambers connects on a single to left center in the Eagles’ game Friday against Huntingdon (Ala.). Chambers’ 2 RBIs lifted Emory to a 12-7 victory. Photo courtesy Gemy Sethaputra.

After this past weekend, the Emory baseball team remains undefeated, having successfully pulled off a three-game sweep against Huntingdon College (Ala.). With these victories, Emory improved their record to 10-0. The team’s perfect record and strong team play earned the team the No. 1 spot in D3baseball.com’s rankings.

Head Coach Mike Twardoski stressed that despite their ranking, the team still has much more to accomplish.

“As far as being number 1, I am very proud, but we have a long way to go,” Twardoski said. “We will keep working hard to try to keep it going.”

Senior designated hitter Brian Hernandez expressed his excitement at Emory’s No. 1 ranking and what it means for the team moving forward.

“I hope we’re able to keep this level of play up,” Hernandez said. “Even though right now we’re still not playing our best, if we’re one of the best teams in the country it’ll be exciting to see what we can do once we get into the swing of things

The series against Huntingdon began Friday, Feb. 24, the team’s first away game of the season. Senior pitcher Jackson Weeg started on the mound for Emory, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits, three walks and six strikeouts.

Trailing by one run in the third, Emory lit up the scoreboard with a monstrous inning. The Huntingdon pitcher was atrocious, giving up three hits and a walk. Huntingdon’s pitcher hit two Emory batters, allowing the Eagles to waltz through two of the six runs in the inning. Six different Eagles recorded RBIs.

Although Huntingdon scored seven runs in the game, Emory’s batters continued to execute offensively. The Eagles added six more runs over the course of the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. Hernandez and senior designated hitter Jeff Ronpirin were Emory’s top offensive players. Hernandez went three for four with a double, triple and two RBIs. Ronpirin went two for five with a double and three RBIs.

After Friday’s 12-7 win, the Eagles looked to notch another victory against Huntingdon Saturday, Feb. 25. In a lower scoring game, Emory was lifted by sophomore starting pitcher Billy Dimlow. Allowing one run (zero earned) and striking out 10 batters through eight innings, Dimlow stymied Huntingdon’s offense.

Senior pitcher Luke Emmett holds the mound for the Eagles. Emory itching stifled Huntington in the series. Photo courtesy Gemy Sethaputra.
Senior pitcher Luke Emmett holds the mound for the Eagles. Emory itching stifled Huntington in the series. Photo courtesy Gemy Sethaputra.

Emory’s bats were active early in the game, marking three runs in the first two innings. In the second inning, the Eagles loaded the bases after two singles and a walk. Emory went on to score two runs after wild pitches by the Huntingdon pitcher.

With Dimlow shutting Huntingdon down and an early three run advantage, the Eagles glided to a 5-1 victory. Emory’s top hitters were senior third baseman Philip Maldari, who went three for four and scored twice, and Hernandez, who went two for five with an RBI.

Emory returned home to Chappell field to take on Huntingdon one last time Sunday, Feb. 26. Senior pitcher Luke Emmett led the team on the mound, remaining unscathed until the fifth inning.

The Eagles had an early lead, scoring four runs in the third inning. Ronpirin led the scoring with a three-run triple. However, Huntingdon struck back in the fifth inning, accumulating five runs and surpassing Emory 5-4.

In the bottom of the seventh, Emory trailed Huntingdon 6-4 but responded by scoring four runs. Emory tacked on one more in the bottom of the eighth before senior relief pitcher Kyle Monk went out to save the game. Monk pitched a scoreless top of the ninth and recorded his second save of the season. The Eagles’ 9-6 victory topped off a three-game sweep over Huntingdon.

Recapping a speech made by the seniors, Hernandez noted that the speech gave the team the motivation it needed to have a big seventh inning.

“In between innings, the seniors noticed that our team was down and had very low energy, which is very unlike us,” Hernandez said. “We called up a meeting and said they put up five runs in an inning and we can do the exact same thing.”

Hernandez and Ronpirin wrapped up an impressive weekend with two hits each Sunday. Both batters were effective, driving in runs with two and four RBIs, respectively.

Reflecting on what contributed to Emory’s victories and where the team could use improvement, Hernandez mentioned strengths in both hitting and pitching along with their mishaps in the field.

“We are finally starting to get our offense rolling and our pitching has continued to work well,” Hernandez said. “But if we want to keep winning our defense needs to step up a little bit.”

Twardoski emphasized the importance of collecting another series sweep and getting production when they needed most.

“Whenever you sweep a series, especially a three game series, you are playing well,” Twardoski said. “We pitched great again and got our timely hits. We put together consecutive good at bats and that is why we scored more runs.”

Emory will return to the diamond Tuesday, Feb. 28, for one game against Berry College (Ga.).

Senior pitcher Luke Emmet pitches in Sunday's game against Washington and Lee (Va.). Emory went on to win 13-0. Photo courtesy Ruth Reyes/Photo Editor.
Senior pitcher Luke Emmet pitches in Sunday’s game against Washington and Lee (Va.). Emory went on to win 13-0. Photo courtesy Ruth Reyes/Photo Editor.

The Emory baseball team continued their dominance by sweeping their opponent for the second straight week. Over the course of the weekend, three games became three wins for Emory against the Washington and Lee University (Va.) Generals. With the series sweep, Emory improved to 7-0 on the season.

The Eagles  began the series Saturday, Feb. 18, with their ace, senior pitcher Jackson Weeg, on the mound. Weeg had a historic performance, setting the Emory all-time record for strikeouts in a game. His 18 strikeouts topped a record of 16 set in 1994. Weeg had a long afternoon on the mound, pitching eight innings and allowing only three runs on six hits and a walk.

In light of breaking the single-game record for strikeouts, Weeg noted that his main goal was to keep Washington and Lee off the scoreboard.

“I knew my first six outs of the game came on strikeouts,” Weeg said. “After that I was pitching to limit runs and to put our team into position to win.”

Head coach Mike Twardoski affirmed that Weeg was ready to handle a long afternoon on the mound and was able to pitch well from start to finish.

“Weeg was ready for it; it would have been hard to take him out of the game,” Twardoski said. “I considered taking him out of the game, but he talked me out of it. He’s ready to get a lot of innings in, so I was comfortable allowing him to approach the 100 pitch count.”

Both teams held the lead throughout the first seven innings. The game remained close until the bottom of the eighth when Emory hit their stride offensively. The Eagles scored four runs in the inning, giving them a 7-3 lead into the ninth. Junior first baseman Bubby Terp, senior third baseman Philip Maldari and junior shortstop Nick Chambers all had RBIs in the inning. Pitching a scoreless top of the ninth, junior relief pitcher Rhett Stuart helped the Eagles maintain their 7-3 lead.

On top of his strong performance on the mound, Weeg commended his team for backing him up with a solid game.

“Every time that I would give up runs, the team would keep on fighting back,” Weeg said. “Catcher [senior] Chris Young called a great game, the bench was into the game and it was a great team effort more than anything.”

In the first game of a day-time double header Sunday, Feb. 19, the Eagles were led on the mound by sophomore pitcher Billy Dimlow. Dimlow allowed no runs in the first five innings. The Eagles themselves struggled to score, but broke through in the fourth thanks to an RBI single by senior right fielder Brian Hernandez.

Clinging to a one run lead in the top of the sixth, Emory yielded a run that tied the game after a fielding error allowed Washington and Lee to have a man on first and second with no outs.

Neither team scored until the bottom of the ninth, when Emory executed its third walk-off victory of the season. Chambers hit a sacrifice fly into center field that scored sophomore third baseman Thomas Baumgartner. The walk-off sacrifice fly gave Emory a 2-1 victory.

Building off of Dimlow’s glorious performance, which included seven innings pitched with no earned runs, one hit, one walk and eight strikeouts, senior relief pitcher Kyle Monk received his third win of the season, keeping the game tied into the bottom of the ninth.

Unlike the first two games in the series, Emory pounced on their opponent in a decisive victory Sunday afternoon. Senior pitcher Luke Emmett kept Washington and Lee scoreless through six innings, allowing only three hits and striking out four batters.

Emory’s bats came alive in the fifth. Up 3-0 to begin the inning, Emory brought in six more runs on four hits and two walks to take a commanding 9-0 lead. The Eagles continued to score in each of the following three innings to grow their lead to 13-0.

Twardoski discussed what made his hitters so effective in the game.

“We strung hits together and we got hits with runners in scoring position,” Twardoski said. “Whenever you do that you put up some runs.”

Four Emory pitchers helped keep Washington and Lee scoreless in the game and contributed to a massive 13-run victory. Emmett received the victory for his second win this season. Young was among Emory’s best hitters in the game, going three for three.

Recapping the weekend, Twardoski indicated the team’s biggest strengths were pitching and contributions from younger players.

“Our strength again this year is pitching and all three of our starting pitchers had great performances,” Twardoski said. “Also we got some young position players in the game and they played with a lot of energy.”

The Eagles will head on the road for their next set of games, beginning Friday, Feb. 26, against Huntingdon College (Ala.).