BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Emory University junior Connor Dillman held 12th-ranked Birmingham-Southern to one unearned run on five hits, and the Eagles broke through for three runs in the eighth inning, as Emory struck the first blow in a key three-game series with the Panthers, winning 4-1 on Saturday.
The win raises Emory's record to 19-8 for the season, while Birmingham-Southern dropped to 20-5 with the loss.
Emory struck first in the contest, scoring in the top of the second inning when Daniel Iturrey singled to lead-off the inning and advanced to second on a throwing error by Birmingham-Southern pitcher Blake Stevens. After Stevens retired the next two batters, Philip Maldari put the Eagles on the board with a base hit to right field, scoring Iturrey and giving Emory a 1-0 advantage.
The lead would hold until the bottom of the fifth inning, as Dillman retired the first nine batters he faced and 12 of the first 13. However, in the fifth, the Panthers capitalized off an Emory error that put runners on the corners, eventually scoring on a sacrifice fly from Zach Wagner to tie the game at a run apiece.
The run scoring would not faze Dillman, who went on to retire the next 10 batters in a row, a streak stretching into the eighth inning.
The Eagles would break through to take the lead again in the top of the eighth. Jared Kahn led the inning off with a double and advanced to third when the Birmingham-Southern third basement committed an error on a ball hit by Brandon Hannon, putting men on the corners without any outs. Junior Brett Lake followed with a single up the middle to score Kahn and drive in his Division III-leading 43rd run of the season, giving Emory a 2-1 lead. After a sacrifice bunt from Iturrey moved the runners to second and third, and chased Stevens from the game, Wes Peacock followed with a two-RBI base hit, boosting the Eagles' advantage to 4-1.
After getting the first out in the ninth, Dillman issued a hit and a walk to bring the tying run to the plate. Jeremy Hatley would single to center for the Panthers, but the Eagles recorded the second out of the inning when Jeremy Mayfield tried to score on the play but was thrown out at the plate by Peacock. Dillman would then strikeout Kevin Shelton to end the game.
It was the third career complete game for Dillman, and his second of the season, as the right-handed pitcher finished the game with seven strikeouts and just one walk. He improved to 5-1 with the victory, while lowering his ERA to 2.44.
Stevens took his first loss of the season in the effort, falling to 5-1 for the campaign after allowing all four runs, two earned, through seven and a third innings of work.