Baseball: Eastern Mennonite 5, Alfred State 4

emu sportsAfter putting up 50 runs in a doubleheader sweep of Alfred State on Saturday, EMU baseball coach Ben Spotts told his men to expect a different opponent when the teams met again on Sunday.  He was right.

The visiting Pioneers jumped to a 4-0 lead, forcing Eastern Mennonite to come from behind to earn a 5-4 win.  The weekend sweep of Alfred State improves the Royals to 7-1, the best start of Spotts’ four years at EMU.  They started 6-1 in 2014.

The men return to the diamond tomorrow, hosting Messiah College in a rescheduled game at 3:00pm.  The contest had originally been slated for last Wednesday, but was postponed due to rain.

Aided by a bigger strike zone and better defense than the previous day, Alfred State made Sunday’s game a good one.  They took a 2-0 lead with a two-out double in the fourth, and then doubled their lead with another two-out hit in the fifth.

EMU started their comeback in the bottom of the frame.  Dean Lowery (Chesapeake, Va./Grassfield) earned a trip to first the hard way, getting hit by the Pioneers’ starting pitcher.  Joe Hall (Gladys, Va./Rustburg) eventually brought him home with a sacrifice fly, and Kyle Armstrong (Greenville, Va./Riverheads) followed with a run-scoring double to chisel the margin to 4-2.

Patrick Love (Bedford, Va./Staunton River) got things rolling in the sixth with a leadoff double.  With runners on the corners,Adam Marston (Woodstock, Va./Miller School) grounded out to second, allowing one run to score.  But Chris Whitelow(Harrisonburg, Va./Harrisonburg), the runner at first, alertly dodged the tag of Alfred State’s second baseman to stay out of the double play.  After an error put runners on the corners again, Griffin Stanley (Roanoke, Va./Cave Spring) laid down a squeeze bunt, and Whitelow charged home to lock things up at 4-4.

Both teams went down quietly until there were two outs in the bottom of the eighth.  Lowery again got beaned to reach base, and Stanley laid down a fantastic bunt towards third.  The Pioneers’ pitcher fired the ball to first, but not only was it too late to catch the speedy Griffin, but the throw sailed over the first baseman’s head.  With the catcher protecting home, there was no one backing up the play and Spotts waved Lowery all the way around from first to home to score the go-ahead run.

Alfred State got one runner on in the top of the ninth, but the game ended on a double play ball when the runner interfered with the throw at second base.

Stanley, Armstrong and Whitelow each had a pair of hits in the game.  Lowery was hit by a pitch twice and scored each time.

Freshman righty Ryan Brewer (Martinsville, Va./Franklin County) struck out seven in 4.2 innings and was charged with all four runs in a no decision.  Robert Johnson (Chesapeake, Va./Greenbrier Christian) threw 2.0 innings of scoreless relief, andAaron Hooven (Carroll, Va./Carroll County) went the final 2.1 innings to improve to 2-0 with the win.

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