APPLETON, Wis. -- Emory staved off elimination at the NCAA Division III championships on Saturday morning with an 8-5 win against Linfield, the reigning national champions.
Emory, now 35-12 on the season, will look to keep momentum going on Sunday, when the squad will play another elimination game against the loser of Saturday's contest between Cortland State and Wisconsin-Whitewater. The game is scheduled for a first pitch at 4:30 p.m. ET.The Wildcats, who dropped their second game of the final rounds of the NCAA championship, were eliminated from tournament play, ending their title defense.
Emory, the visiting team in Saturday's game, jumped out to a quick start in the game with three runs in the top of the first inning. Senior Brandon Hannon started the rally with a one-out double, and the Eagles proceeded to draw three consecutive walks off Linfield starter and second-team All-America selection Aaron Thomassen, including an RBI free pass with the bases loaded issued to senior Jared Kahn. Senior Jared Welch followed with two-strike RBI single, and freshman Philip Maldari capped off the scoring with a sacrifice fly, scoring senior Daniel Iturrey from third. Emory would chase Thomassen from the game after just two thirds of an inning, giving way to reliever Zach Manley, who got the final out of the inning without any further damage.
After Emory's junior starter Connor Dillman pitched a scoreless first inning, the Eagles went back on the attack in the second, scoring runs on an RBI single from junior Brett Lake and a RBI fielder's hit into by Welch, pushing Emory's advantage to 5-0.
Dillman worked out of jams in his next few innings, as Linfield left the bases loaded in the second, a runner on in the third, and two in the fourth, but could not score on the Eagles' right-handed starter. Meanwhile, Manley retired seven consecutive batters, before the Eagles added another run in the fifth without the benefit of a hit, when Kahn was hit by a pitch, stole second, moved to third on a groundout, and scored on a sacrifice fly from junior Jordan Selbach.
Linfield continued to threaten, finally taking advantage of a bases-loaded situation in the bottom of the sixth, when Corey VanDomelen singled with two outs to score two runs, and chase Dillman from the contest. However, senior Matt McMahon entered the game in relief and retired Nick Fisher on a groundout to second base to end the threat.
Dillman finished the game with the pair of earned runs allowed on seven hits and four walks, while striking out five batters in 5.2 innings. He would go on to earn the win in the game, improving to 10-1 for the campaign.
Both offenses put runs on the board in the seventh and eighth innings as well. In the seventh, Maldari extended Emory's lead to 7-2 with his second sacrifice fly of the game, but the Wildcats answered back with an RBI single in the bottom of the frame from Jo Carroll. The Eagles would score again on a wild pitch in the top of the eighth, but once again, Linfield plated a pair on RBI singles from Clayton Truex and Kramer Lindell against Emory reliever Ben Hinojosa, cutting Emory's lead to 8-5.
With two out and the tying run at the plate in the eighth, freshman reliever Kyle Monk entered and struck out Carroll to end the inning. He then pitched around a two-out infield hit in the ninth to get through a scoreless frame and close out the contest for his sixth save of the year, five of which have come during NCAA tournament play.
Lake, Iturrey and Kahn each had a pair of hits in the game for Emory, while Welch and Maldari each drove in two runs in the game.