APPLETON, Wis. -- For the second time in the program's history, Emory will play for the NCAA Division III championship, as the Eagles claimed a 10-7 win against St. Thomas (Minn.) on Monday.
It was the second win of the day for the Eagles, who defeated Southern Maine 15-3 earlier in the day, and have won four consecutive games at the NCAA championships to advance through the losers' bracket into the national championship game. The Eagles will take on Wisconsin-Whitewater, needing to win twice to claim the first national championship in the program's history.
Emory, now 38-12, will be making its second appearance in the national championship game, after reaching the title game in 2007. The game is scheduled for a noon ET start on Tuesday, with the second game, if necessary, to follow at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Senior Ben Hinojosa gutted his way through six solid innings to pick up the win, earning the win to improve to 5-2 on the season. He allowed six runs, but just one earned, on eight hits and three walks, while striking out four batters. Senior Robert Gross closed out the game with a three inning save, his second of the season, allowing just one run on five hits and a strikeout.
After the Eagles stranded a pair of runners on the base paths in the top of the first, St. Thomas took advantage of an early error in the first to score three unearned runs in the bottom of the inning. Catcher J.D. Dorgan drove in the first run of the contest with a base hit, and Kelvin Stroik followed with a two-RBI hit to give the Tommies an early 3-0 lead.The Eagles came back in the top of second, scoring runs on an RBI single from Philip Maldari and a bases-loaded infield hit from Brett Lake, cutting the lead to 3-2, before the Tommies added on another run in the bottom of the frame on an RBI hit from Jack Hogan.
Hinojosa would settle in on the mound, and Emory would put up another two spot in the fourth, scoring on a sacrifice fly from Lake and an RBI ground out from Daniel Iturrey, tying the score at 4-4.
Hinojosa worked around a jam in the bottom of the fifth, when he walked the leadoff hitter, who advanced to third on a stolen base and a ground out. However, he struck out Brady Johnson and induced a groundout to second base from Nick Degen to end the frame unscathed.
Emory took its first lead of the game with a two-out RBI single from Lake in the sixth, and then added on a five-run inning in the seventh, including an RBI double from Jared Welch, an RBI single from Jordan Selbach, and a two-RBI double from Brandon Hannon to give the Eagles a 10-4 lead.
St. Thomas would eat away at the lead with two runs in the seventh and one in the eighth, and bring the tying run to the plate with two outs, but Gross would shut the door to put the Eagles in the championship game.
Lake drove in three runs for Emory in the game, extending his program record to 69 this season. Eight Emory batters picked up hits in the game, and seven had at least two hits in the contest. In Emory's two games on Monday, the Eagles combined to score 25 runs on 32 hits.
Relief pitcher Bill Ferderer took the loss for St. Thomas, falling to 1-1 on the year. The Tommies, the fourth team the Eagles have eliminated in the national finals, ended their campaign with a 39-9 record.
Emory is now 13-2 in elimination games during their past three NCAA tournament appearances.