HARRISONBURG, VA --- The Diamond Royals scored first against rival Bridgewater College in Tuesday's home finale, and were back in front after seven innings. But the final two frames made the difference, as the Eagles took over in an 18-9 decision.
The loss drops EMU's baseball men to 15-20-1 overall and 9-11 in the ODAC. The Royals remain in sole possession of eighth place in the league standings and control their own destiny towards earning the final ODAC Tournament berth, although Bridgewater, Washington and Lee, and Guilford all sit one game behind them at 8-12.
Eastern Mennonite heads to Virginia Wesleyan (18-14/12-8 ODAC) for a doubleheader on Saturday to wrap up the regular season. The Royals made an identical road trip four years ago and earned a split to clinch a spot in the postseason tourney in 2015.
This time the men are looking for their second ODAC Tournament appearance since 2002.
Tuesday's game against the Eagles was full of scoring and missed opportunities, as the teams combined for 27 runs, 34 hits, 12 walks and 22 runners left on base.
EMU struck first on an RBI single from Jaylon Lee (Newport News, Va./Denbigh) in the first inning, but BC came right back with a four-run second, including a three-run homer from Brett Jones.
Zach Roberts (Stuarts Draft, Va./Riverheads) pulled an RBI single in the third to cut the margin to two, but Brett Jones struck again with a two-run, two-out triple in the top of the fifth to make it 6-2.
The Royals shucked momentum in the bottom of the frame, however, with a two-out walk from Brett Lindsay (Gloucester, Va./Gloucester) starting a rally. After a single from Ray Tricarico (Culpeper, Va./Eastern View), Lee played the defense and floated a short RBI double to right center. Corey Willis (Fredericksburg, Va./Massaponax) then smacked a two-run single to the same place, cutting the lead to 6-5.
Reliever Gage Riddick (Gates County, N.C./Gates County) held BC down for two scoreless at-bats until his offense got going again in the seventh. Tricarico reached on the unconventional strikeout wild pitch to lead off and Willis drew a one-out walk. The Eagles nearly got out of the inning unscathed on what looked to be a double play ball, but the relay to first sailed high, allowing Tricarico to come around and score from second. Pinch hitter Jordan Brake (Roanoke, Va./Lord Botetourt) came through again, sticking an RBI single through the left side to give EMU a 7-6 lead.
But that momentum quickly fizzled in the eighth as the first three Eagles hit singles to tie the game. A sacrifice fly and two-run single later, the visitors had jumped ahead 10-7.
Lee hit an RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the frame, though, and EMU still had hope heading into the ninth trailing 10-8.
But with two singles and a walk, Bridgewater had the bases loaded with one out. Back-to-back errors opened the floodgates, and Eagles took full advantage, scoring eight runs to blow the game open.
EMU brought in their own flood of pinch hitters in their final at-bat, and Matt Lannes (Leesburg, Va./Heritage) scored on a sacrifice fly from Roberts for the game's final run.
Lee paced the offense with a 3-4 performance, driving in three runs. He also walked and scored once. Roberts reached base three times and accounted for three runs in his final home game.
Leadoff man Jordan Jones (Saxe, Va./Randolph Henry) had two hits and a walk, scoring twice. Tricarico slapped a pair of singles, while Lindsay and Robert Guenther (Falls Church, Va./George C. Marshall) each drew two walks.
Ryan Brewer (Martinsville, Va./Franklin County) fell to 4-3 with the loss from the mound, tagged with five earned runs in 1.1 innings. Riddick struck out two in his 2.0 scoreless innings.