APPLETON, Wis. -- Emory battled their way to a 9-7 win against Cortland State on Sunday afternoon at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium to stay alive at the NCAA Division III championships and eliminate the Red Dragons from title contention.
After fighting to wins in the first two games of the losers' bracket, the Eagles, 36-12 for the season, will now take on Southern Maine at 1 p.m. ET Monday. Should the Eagles win, they would face the loser of the winner's bracket game between St. Thomas (Minn.) and Wisconsin-Whitewater at 4:30 p.m. ET Monday.
Freshman Hans Hansen earned the win in the game, scattering 10 hits and walk to hold Cortland to five runs, four of which were earned. He improved to 9-2 on the year, setting a new program record for wins in a season by a freshman.
Emory fell into an early hole on Sunday when Cortland State scored a pair of runs in the top of the first on RBI singles from Anthony Iacomini and Max Rosing.
Cortland starter Brandon Serio retired the first two batters of the bottom of the first, but back-to-back singles from Brett Lake and Daniel Iturrey, followed by a hit-by-pitch drawn by Jared Kahn, loaded the bases for Jared Welch, who evened the score with a two-run single. A batter later, Philip Maldari evened the score with a fly ball to right that was lost in the sun, dropping in for an RBI hit to score Kahn.The Red Dragons answered right back to take the lead in the top of the second, when a catcher's interference call and a single put two on, and Vinny Bomasuto drove them both in with a double off the wall in leftfield. Hansen would settle in from there, retiring the next nine batters in a row before a double and an error in the top of the fifth put runners on the corners with one out. However, the freshman induced a pop out and a fly out to end the threat and keep it at a 4-3 game.
Emory's bats would break out again in the bottom of the fifth to regain the lead. After Serio retired the first two batters of the inning for the fifth consecutive frame, Iturrey singled and stole second, allowing Kahn to drive him in with a base hit past the second baseman to tie the game at four. Welch followed with a double to the left centerfield gap to put Emory back on top, and Maldari, on a hit and run play, singled to right field to give Emory a 6-4 advantage and chase Serio from the game.
The Eagles held their two runs lead until the seventh when P.J. Rinaldi singled in Bomasuto with two outs, and Chris Jackson followed with a base hit down the rightfield line to put runners on the corners. Hansen gave way to freshman Kyle Monk, who threw two strikes to the batter before Cortland attempted a steal of home with runners on first and third that was foiled by the Emory defense to end the frame with the lead intact, 6-5.
After the stop by Monk, the Eagles buffered their lead with another three runs in the bottom of the seventh. With one out, Iturrey hit a line drive that got past the Cortland left fielder and all the way to the wall, allowing Iturrey to reach third. Kahn walked in the next at bat, and with Welch at the plate, Emory executed the play that Cortland failed to in the top of the inning, with Kahn breaking for second and drawing a throw, allowing Iturrey to score. Welch picked up an RBI single in the next at bat, his fourth RBI of the game, and Maldari drove in Welch with a double off the wall in left centerfield, giving the Eagles a 9-5 lead.
Cortland would not go away quietly, however. In the top of the eighth, the Red Dragons scored two runs and loaded the bases with one out, but Monk induced a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning with a two-run lead intact. He would then go on to retire the side in order in the ninth, earning his seventh save of the year, and his sixth of the NCAA championships.
Welch finished the game 3-for-4 with four RBI at the plate to pace the Eagles, while Maldari added a 4-for-4 day with three RBI. Emory stole six bases in the game, and collected 14 hits.
Cortland State ended its campaign with an overall record of 36-10. Serio took the loss for the Red Dragons, dropping to 9-3.