APPLETON, Wis. -- Emory scored early and often on Monday afternoon, as the Eagles remained alive at the NCAA Division III championships in with a 15-3 win against Southern Maine.
Emory, which improved to 37-12, will need to win one more game on Monday against St. Thomas (Minn.), scheduled for a 4:35 PM ET start. A win against the Tommies would allow the Eagles to play for a national championship on Tuesday against Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Sophomore Paul Merolla pitched his second complete game of the season and the third of his career, holding the Huskies to just three runs on nine hits and one walk. He improved to 4-1 on the season with the win, his second of the NCAA championships.
Meanwhile, Merolla was backed by a 16-hit attack from the Eagles' offense. Eight different Emory players picked up hits in the game, led by three-hit performances from Wes Peacock and Jared Kahn. Kahn finished the game with five runs batted in, while Philip Maldari drove in four of his own.
Starting for Southern Maine was sophomore Shyler Scates, throwing on just one day of rest after a 3.1-inning outing against Salisbury on Saturday, during which he allowed two runs on six hits in a no-decision. The Eagles took advantage of Scates in the first, opening the game with three consecutive hits, including a swinging bunt from Brett Lake that scored Wes Peacock from third base. After a Daniel Iturrey sacrifice bunt, Jared Kahn singled to drive in Brandon Hannon and Lake, extending the Eagles' lead to 3-0. Kahn then stole third, and scored on Jared Welch's sacrifice fly, giving Emory a 4-0 lead after one.The Eagles chased Scates from the game after just one out, marking the third time in four games of the national finals that Emory has forced the opponents' starting pitcher from the game after an inning or less of work. Reliever Alex Tobey took over for Scates, getting the final two outs of the first and preventing further damage until the top of the fifth.
Merolla held Southern Maine off the board until the bottom of the third, when the Huskies loaded the bases with no outs, and scored a run on when Merolla hit cleanup hitter Forrest Chadwick with a pitch. The Eagles' right-handed pitcher recorded the first two outs of the inning on a line drive to Kahn at second base that was turned into an unassisted double play, but allowed a second run on an RBI single from Chris Bernard before getting the final out of the frame on a groundout, preserving a 4-2 advantage for Emory.
In the fifth, Peacock pushed Emory's lead to 5-2 with a solo home run deep over the left field wall, his team-leading fifth of the season and the first long ball by an Eagle since he hit one against LaGrange on April 23rd. The squad added another run in the top of the sixth, when Iturrey scored on an RBI groundout from Maldari,
The Eagles broke the game open in the seventh and eighth innings. In the seventh, Emory scored five more runs, including two on an RBI double from Maldari. Emory added on another pair in the eighth, taking a commanding 13-2 lead.
The Huskies would get a run off Merolla in the bottom of the eighth, but Emory came back with another pair in the ninth on an RBI single from Iturrey and a sacrifice fly from Kahn, his fifth run batted in of the game. Iturrey ran his hitting streak to 17 games with the base hit.
Scates took the loss for the Huskies, falling to 6-4 on the season, as Southern Maine ended its season with an overall record of 37-15.