DEMOREST, Ga. -- For the fourth time in the program's history and the first time since 2007, the Emory University Eagles will compete for the NCAA Division III championship, after winning the South Regional championship with a 5-2 victory against Bridgewater College on Sunday.
The Eagles battled their way back through the losers' bracket, after dropping their second game of the tournament to Bridgewater. Emory rallied off four consecutive wins, defeating Rhodes College, Shenandoah and Bridgewater twice to win the regional title.
Both teams' starting pitchers were working on short rest, with Emory's Connor Dillman earning the win against Rhodes on Wednesday with a 115-pitch effort, and Bridgewater's Nick Corbin picking up a victory against Birmingham-Southern on Friday with a 97-pitch outing.
A two-run single in the top of the second inning off the bat of Justin Peatock put Bridgewater out in front early, 2-0. Emory responded immediately in the bottom of the frame, starting with back-to-back singles from Daniel Iturrey and Jared Kahn, to put runners on the corners. The next batter, Jared Welch, hit a sacrifice fly, cutting the lead in half.
The score remained 2-1 until the bottom of the fourth, when Kahn and Welch opened the inning with back-to-back walks, and Philip Maldari drove them both in with a double in the left-center field gap, giving the Eagles their first lead of the game, 3-2. Wes Peacock later drove in Maldari from second with a two-out hit, putting Emory ahead by a pair.
Bridgewater would threaten against Dillman in the top of the fifth, putting runners at second and third with one out. However, he struck out a pair of Eagles to end the frame and his day. It was the second time in the game Bridgewater left the bases packed to end an inning.
Dillman scattered eight hits and five walks in the outing, holding the Eagles to a pair of runs and striking out eight in five innings and 115 pitches. He picked up his second win of the tournament, and improved to 9-1 overall this season.
Emory took advantage of a pair of errors in the bottom of the fifth to add on a run. Matt McMahon entered the game in the sixth, and retired the side in order, including a pair of strikeouts. After he allowed a leadoff hit to start the seventh, Jackson Weeg (just two days removed from an eight-inning outing against Rhodes) picked off the runner, and induced a pair of groundouts to get out of the inning without any damage. Weeg then retired the side in order in the eighth.
Monk would close out the game in the ninth, earning his fifth save of the campaign, four of which came during the six tournament games.
Corbin took the loss for Bridgewater, dropping to 8-2 on the year. Bridgewater closed out its campaign with a 36-14 record, while Emory improved to 34-11 with the victory.