Emory falls to NAIA powerhouse

Emory’s baseball team (27-8) took on Georgia Gwinnett College (42-4) April 15, falling to the Grizzlies 14-3. Coach Mike Twardoski said that although the outcome was disappointing, the game can still help the team succeed.

“Georgia Gwinnett is a great team — they’re No. 1 in the NAIA [National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics],” Twardoski said. “We got a chance to put a lot of guys in to see some great hitting and pitching.”

Junior pitcher Andrew Doetsch echoed his coach’s sentiment.

“Georgia Gwinnett is one of the best teams in the NAIA,” Doetsch said. “Just playing against the best prepares us for the rest of the season and post-season, which is always our goal.”

Senior pitcher Paul Merolla got the start for the Eagles and struggled in his four-inning outing. Merolla allowed five runs, three of which were earned. Merolla gave up five hits and four walks, while striking out three. The team of four relievers who closed out the game for Emory had a hard time containing Georgia Gwinnett, as well. Sophomores Rhett Stuart, Danny Kerning and Mack Wilkins, as well as junior Andrew Doetsch each pitched one inning to finish the game. Stuart allowed five runs and Doetsch allowed two, while Kerning and Wilkins allowed a single run each.

At the plate, Emory managed to collect only four hits total. Left fielder Wilson Morgan and third baseman Philip Maldari, both juniors, as well as and left fielder David Draper and first baseman Sam Brzowski, both freshmen, each recorded one hit. Morgan, Draper and Maldari also drove in  an RBI each. The team struck out 11 times and drew only four walks in the game. Twardoski was especially impressed the plate appearances of the two freshmen in the bunch.

“They [Draper and Brzowski] haven’t gotten a lot of at-bats, so it’s hard to get your timing down,” Twardoski said. “To come in off the bench and get hits off a guy throwing 90 [miles per hour] is really good.”

The Eagles will return to action Tuesday, April 19, when they travel across town to take on Oglethorpe University (Ga.) (19-20). Junior pitcher Jackson Weeg (6-0, 1.97 ERA) is planned to start Tuesday night’s game. Twardoski said that a fierce attitude could lead the Eagles to victory.

“I really want to see us come out and play with a chip on our shoulder after dropping a home game to [Oglethorpe] last week,” Twardoski said. “I think that could give us an edge in the game.”

Emory now has four regular season games remaining  on the year. When asked about how to finish the season strong, Doetsch said  the key is staying healthy and consistent .

“We need to maintain the current level of play we have, if not improve on it,” Doetsch said. “We need to continue to get consistent starts from our staff and keep capitalizing at the plate and the field.”